Finding the Right Spot – Book Review

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From the Cover of Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live with Their Parents by Janice Levy:

“‘Aunt Dane takes care of kids like me when their real parents can’t. Like when your mom loses her job and can’t pay the rent and drinks too much and gets sick so you stay home from school to take care of her. That’s what happened to me.’

Finding the Right Spot is a story for all kids who can’t live with their parents regardless of the circumstances. It’s a story about resilience and loyalty, hope and disappointment, love sadness, and anger, too. It’s about whether life is fair, and wondering what will happen tomorrow, and talking about all of it. And finally, it’s about what makes the spot you’re in feel right.”

Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

This story appears to be written for foster families or adoptive families who have children from the foster care system. The tale seems to be best suited for children ages 4 – 10 (elementary aged school children.)

The illustrator, Whitney Martin, has worked on various artistic projects including animation projects for the Walt Disney Company. The images in the book are of the quality and style that you would come to expect from the same caliber as the Walt Disney Company. The people depicted in the images are done in a cartoon style that will engage children and help to captivate them in the story.

Speaking of the story content – Finding the Right Spot does a fantastic job of depicting a family friendly but realistic situation in which many foster children find themselves. The book allows a foster child to relate with the story while allowing them to see that other people go through their situation as well – specifically coping with being in a foster home and being away from their birth parent(s) and all the emotions that come along with that situation. The book will create an environment for healthy discussion between caregiver and child about the situation in which they find themselves.

Spoiler Alert:
While the book does hint at the struggle and addiction that the birth mother is attempting to cope with – the book does not appear to demonize the birth mom. Furthermore, the book is not going to end in a fashion where the foster mom “saves” the child from the birth mom and her addiction. Instead the book cleverly has a somewhat open ended conclusion where it is unclear if the child returns to her birth home or not.

Since this book does depict a story that could be very similar to a situation that many foster children are living through, it may have the ability to trigger some trauma or fears in kids. Transfiguring Adoption suggests that caregivers read the book prior to reading it with their child. We would also suggest allowing for time to discuss and talk about the book – this may not be a good book to ready quickly before bed and simply expect your child to fall asleep afterwards.

Overall, Transfiguring Adoption finds this book to be of significant use to families formed through the foster care system. Not only does this book create dynamic and healthy conversation but it helps to “normalize,” a foster child’s situation in order for foster children to not carry a feeling of being “different” from all other children.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. Can you eat as much peanut butter as the girl in the book?
  2. How does the girl feel when her mom doesn’t come to visit?
  3. Why do you think Jake the dog is sacred of the girl at first?
  4. Why does Jake the dog let the girl pet him at the end of the book?
  5. How does Aunt Dane take care of the girl throughout the story?
  6. Do you think that the girl’s mom loves her? Why?
  7. The girl liked to talk about horses and show her mom drawings during visits. What do you like to do with your mom/dad?
  8. The girl hit pizza dough hard and didn’t want to eat her birthday cake when she was upset from her mom not coming to visit. Have you ever felt upset after a visit?
  9. The girl didn’t want her mom to know she liked Aunt Dane or her foster home. Do you ever feel like that? When? Why?
  10. How can people take care of you through sad times like Aunt Dane?

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