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As Real As It Gets – Book Review

as-real-as-it-gets-amanda-barton-natalie-hart-rectangle From the about As Real As It Gets by Amanda Barton, Natalie Hart, & Joel Schoon-Tanis:

“A young boy feels like there’s a cobra, a T Rex, a gas bubble growing inside him … soon it comes slithering, roaring, exploding out: “You’re not my real mother!” His mother reassures him: “I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up, I’m your mother in truth. Your mother. Forever.” The story ends on an “okay for now” moment of love and silliness: “Well, T Rex. Here’s the bad news. Forever for you means that you’ll always have those silly short arms, too short to pick your nose and too short to tickle your son.” As Real As It Gets is for any child (adopted, step, or foster) who might be thinking, “you’re not my real mother,” but is afraid of how she will react if they let the words escape. Children will be reassured that what they’re feeling is normal, and parents will be, too.”


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 books appears to have been written for adoptive or foster families. The story seems to be best suited for children who are between the ages of 5 to 8 years old. The book seems to deal directly with an adoptive or foster family which is interracial. Thus, the book is directly applicable for many caregivers and their kids.

The illustrations are colorful and whimsical. They are executed in a good balance of realism and expressionism. Children will be able to not only identify with the people in the books but also stay in tune with the emotions conveyed through the fluid designs.

The story centers on a young boy who describes his emotional outbursts to the reader. The boy is able to convey various ways in which his body feels and some situations that cause him to have outbursts with his parents. The boy is able to describe his emotional state as a monster, which sporadically visits.

The book appears to be quite helpful in that it depicts the mother as having a mantra which she speaks to the boy each time the monster shows up. Transfiguring Adoption also enjoys that the book depicts the mother in various states of patience when speaking this mantra as it doesn’t give the false impression that a caregiver is always rosey, cheerful, and perfect.

The story even goes a step further with not only showing the issue, explaining the feelings, depicting a proper parental response, but shows a child reader how this love, care and concern can improve their mood and life.

Overall, this story appears to be an excellent source for caregivers who would like to create an atmosphere where children are allowed to talk about and explore the feelings they are having due to their journey through adoption or foster care. This story will also hopefully begin conversations that give your family ideas for banishing the ugly monster of emotional meltdowns.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. What makes the boy’s monster come out?
  2. Is the boy’s mother happy all the time when she talks to the monster? Why do you think that?
  3. How does the boy feel when his mom defeats the monster?
  4. Do you have a monster like the boy? What does it look like? A cobra? A T-rex?
  5. What can/does your foster/adoptive parent say to you to defeat the monster?
  6. What do you think forever means?


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