Saving Sweetness – Book Review

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From the Cover of Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley and G. Brian Karas:

“Sweetness is the ittiest, bittiest orphan in Mrs. Sump’s orphanage. But Sweetness is sick and tired of havin’ to scrub the floor with a toothbrush, so she decides to run away. Quick as a wink, Mrs. Sump calls the sheriff and sends him out to find her. But every time the sheriff catches up with Sweetness, that little bitty orphan manages to get away again. Could it be that little Sweetness doesn’t want to be saved after all?”

Grade:

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 1 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 book appears to be written for the general public and especially for children in early primary school. Transfiguring Adoption noticed that this title was mentioned in other forums as a useful book for foster families. The story seems to relate to foster care in as far as the main character lives in an orphanage.

The illustrations are full color and are reminiscent of the 90s nickelodeon cartoons. The pages are filled with whimsical and cartoonish characters that will keep a child’s attention. The pictures will help the read to be immersed in this story.

Transfiguring Adoption found the story to be fun and humorous for the general public. However, there were a few major factors that we saw in this book where we cannot suggest it to your foster or adoptive family.

  • Sweetness is the main character in the book. She lives in an orphanage where the children are made to do manual labor by the evil caretaker of the orphanage. This scenario encourages the view that a foster parent or another caregiver is going to be mean. Children from traumatic backgrounds have usually not had adults in their lives that they can trust. This book is not going to strengthen the concept that there are safe adults that can provide for a child and allow them to have a healthy childhood.
  • In the book Sweetness essentially chooses to run away from her caregiver to escape trauma and poor living conditions. This behavior is never addressed in the book as being the wrong decision nor is another option given to the character. Transfiguring Adoption is concerned about caregivers presenting this behavior in a story to children who might be prone to run from caregivers whom they already have a difficult time trusting. Furthermore, many foster or adoptive children have not been shown how to advocate for themselves to caring adults using their words and would rather run physically or emotionally away.
  • The sheriff in the story is presented as the only caring/loving adult to sweetness. He appears to be a bumbling man who provides setup for the comical situations. While the Sheriff sets out in the story to save Sweetness, it is time and time again that Sweetness saves the pair or figures out a solution to a problem when the Sheriff cannot. Transfiguring Adoption is concerned that by presenting the caring adult as incapable of handling situations, it will reinforce what foster or adoptive children innately believe to be true – namely they must take care of themselves because the adults are unable.

Overall, we would say that this book appears to be whimsical and full of fun. However, due to the trauma and special circumstances that most foster of adoptive families have this book will not be a beneficial tale to nurture growth in your family. While other folks might be suggesting that this be a great book for foster or adoptive families to look into, we suggest you leave this book to families whose children don’t struggle with trusting the parent in their life.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. Why did Sweetness run away? How did she feel?
  2. Have you ever felt sad, scared and upset all together? When?
  3. When you feel upset about something, what should you do?
  4. How did Sweetness help the Sheriff in the story?
  5. It is not normal for kids to take care of the adults – it’s a fun pretend story.
    How do you know that your parent(s) take care of you? How do they make you feel safe?

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