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Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care – Book Review


From the Cover of Murphy’s Three Homes by Jan Levinson Gilman; illustrated by Kathy O’Malley:

“Being a pup in foster care is awfully confusing. What’s Murphy do when he’s taken away from his family and placed in a new home, with new people, new pets, and … new EVERYTHING?!

As he moves from one house to another, Murphy begins to understand all his sad and angry feelings and finds ways to cope. Eventually, he discovers what it means to be a ‘good luck’ dog as he jumps and barks his way into a comfortable spot in his new home.

An extensive Note to Parents, written by author Jan Levinson Gilman, PhD, discusses the emotional experiences of children who are in foster care, and provides caregivers with information on how to help kids cope with the difficulties of being placed in multiple homes.”


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 but naturally, any family would do well to read it for an insight to the life/emotions of a foster child. The book appears to be written approximately for ages 4 – 9. The book deals with the emotions and feelings of a foster child by following a small terrier dog that is in a foster care situation.

The illustrations in the book are well suited for the age range. They are full-color images and are realistic in nature. The pictures seems to engage younger children and help to keep their attention as the story is being read to them. The illustrations also do well to depict facial expressions and body language so that children can relate to the emotions of all the characters.

The story follows a dog named Murphy as he is moved to three different foster homes after being taken away from his birth home. We believe that children who have been in foster care will be able to identify with at least one of Murphy’s moves. Foster children or former foster youth will more than likely be able to relate to some of the thought processes that Murphy goes through also – such as being apathetic to behavior due to the belief that one will get kicked out of a home no matter what. Murphy also seems to have trouble trusting adults as due to various past experiences.

Since children will be able to relate a lot to Murphy during his life adventures, this book may remind a child of their past trauma. Thus, this book may not be a good book to read right before bedtime. Caregivers may want to read this book with their child when there is time afterwards for discussion. Since some children take time to process information and won’t immediately have questions, caregivers may also want to check back in with their kids and see if they have questions about the book throughout the week.

Overall, this book seems like something that will definitely create healthy conversation about foster care in your family. Transfiguring Adoption believes that this book would be a powerful addition to your home library – this book is not one that you simply borrow but buy to have on hand for several readings.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. Why did Murphy have to move from his first foster home? Did he do something wrong?
  2. Why did Murphy think he was a bad luck dog?
  3. What happened in the second foster home when Murphy misbehaved? What happened in the third?
  4. Why did Murphy think other dogs were good luck dogs?
  5. Do you ever feel like a bad luck girl/boy – like nothing good should happen for you?
  6. What could Murphy control doing? What could he not control?
  7. How did he know the third family cared about him?
  8. What can you control in your situation? What can you NOT control?
  9. How do you know your foster family cares about you?


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