Review also includes:
Dad David, Baba Chris and ME, ****, Ed Merchant, ill. Rachel Fuller, 978-1905664894
The BAAF is fast becoming an established player on the publishing scene! These two books, both aimed firmly at adopted children and both honest about the occasional emotional problems this can cause, have very different contexts. The Most Precious Present in the World is a straightforward book about a little girl in a loving family who is sometimes concerned that her hair and eyes are different from those of her parents. Reassurance from Mum comes in the form of explaining that both were presents from her birth mum and dad and that she is the ‘most precious present’ of all to her adoptive parents. Mia sometimes finds her adoption sad and confusing – and it even makes her cross, but Mum says this is okay too, because it isn’t easy to understand about being adopted. The loving family context along with simple, warm illustrations provide plenty of encouragement.
The second book is quite different. Again we have an adopted child, but this time in a family with two fathers. Ben, who is almost eight, was adopted when he was four by Baba Chris and Dad David. Chris is from Africa where dads are called Baba, and Ben is a mixed race child. Ben admits to terrible temper tantrums when he first came to live in his new family, but through understanding and love, he learned that this was to be a permanent family for him and not one of the temporary situations he had been in since his birth parents had been unable to care for him. The real problem arises when he goes to junior school and gets teased about being ‘gay’. As he can tell his two dads anything, he is able to express this problem, and it is taken up at school where his teacher explains about the different kinds of families that exist and that he has a very special one. While Ben has always wanted to be ‘ordinary’, he sees that there are advantages to being different, and though the teasing doesn’t stop completely, he can cope with it and even feel sorry for the perpetrators. The illustrations are a combination of pictures and explanatory text in boxes and add a great deal of colour and animation to the story. Ben asks his dads if he will be gay when he grows up, and they quite matter-of-factly tell him that he will know when the time comes. There are few stories about children with parents of the same sex, and this one is an excellent and very useful example.