Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Book Recommendations

All children can appreciate loving stories about adoption
One bright summer day a few years ago, an acquaintance stopped by to share some good news. She was headed to China to adopt a daughter, who would join three older children. Could I recommend a book or two for her newly enlarged family? At that time there were a few; now there are many.

Here are five good titles that will resonate with all children.

Three Names of Me (Whitman, $15.95) is a small gem. The cover carries embossed Chinese letters and a striking painting of Ada. Author Mary Cummings tells how Ada was first given a name by her Chinese birth mother. Unknown but treasured nonetheless, that name is held deep in her heart. "Baby sitters" in the orphanage provided a second name, and the girl's American parents named her Ada. Gently written, this lovely picture book takes an honest look at the questions adopted children often ask. Lin Wang's illustrations are beautiful. Journaling suggestions and a ribbon place marker complete the package (ages 5-10).

Another welcome addition to this genre is Bringing Asha Home ( Lee & Low, $16.95) by Uma Krishnaswami. Arun, an 8-year old boy, longs for a sister to help him celebrate Rakhi, a Hindu holiday special to sisters and brothers. When his parents tell him a new sister is coming from India, his father's home, he is excited and impatient. The long wait for his baby is excruciating, but Asha finally arrives. Authentic chalk illustrations by Jamel Akib highlight this well-written book (ages 5-8).

Two older books about adoption that are well worth reading are I Love You Like Crazy Cakes (Little Brown, $14.95) by Rose Lewis and Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born (HarperCollins, 16.99) by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Lewis writes as a single mom who adopts a baby from China. The newborn girls "lived in a big room with lots of other babies," where nannies take care of them, but something was missing - a mother. Far away across the ocean was a woman who was also missing something - a baby. After mountains of paperwork and a trip around the world, the two become a family. Jane Dyer's charming and realistic watercolors mesh with a heartfelt text to create a just-right book for young listeners (ages 3-6).

Deftly, Curtis tells the story of a little girl who asks constantly for the story of the night she was born. She knows what happened by heart, but her parents lovingly remember the much-anticipated phone call, the long plane trip and the first glimpse of their tiny daughter. I rarely recommend books by celebrities, but Curtis is an exception, and this is one of her best. Laura Cornell illustrates with bouncy, colorful cartoon drawings (ages 4-7).

And finally, consider a book about open adoption, Megan's Birthday Tree (Albert Whitman, $16.95) by Laurie Lears. When Megan was born, her birth mother, Kendra, gave her up for adoption and planted a tree. Every year for Megan's birthday, Kendra sends a photo of herself next to that tree. Now Kendra is moving, and Megan is worried about being forgotten. A sensitive and honest look at a complicated situation, accompanied by Bill Farnsworth's warm, full-color paintings (ages 6-10).


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