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Katie Careful and the Very Sad Smile: Foster Care and Adoption Children’s Book Review


From the Cover of Katie Careful and the Very Sad Smile: A Therapeutic Parenting Book by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies:

“Katie Careful has just moved in with her siblings and new parents. Even if she’s sad or scared, she smiles and smiles to try to hide her wobbly feelings.

She clings on to her mum’s leg and won’t let go and she even follows her to the toilet, banging on the door to remind her that she’s there. Luckily, her mum understands why Katie acts this way.”


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 book targets foster and adoptive families and is written for children ages three to ten. This story explores the themes of hiding feelings, a child’s fear of being moved to a new home if they don’t behave a certain way, clingy behaviors, separation anxiety, and the fear of being forgotten by a caregiver. Like the other books in the series, this tale portrays a true-to-life situation which will allow families to open up to healthy dialogue.

The illustrations in this book are adequate for communicating the concepts and ideas; the book notes that the illustrations have been deliberately left simple to help children focus on the story. The pictures will keep your child engaged throughout the story.

The story centers around Katie Careful, who is a sibling to the children in the other books of the series. As was mentioned above, the story introduces a situation many foster or adoptive families can relate to. This will allow families to utilize this story as a great discussion piece within their home. The book introduces Katie’s motivation for her behaviors and an example of how parents can successfully react to the situation. As always, the books from this series end with a section written to caregivers explaining the reasoning behind trauma-induced behaviors. This last section also explains how therapeutic parents should respond to these problematic situations, all the while explaining the science and psychology in a way in which you don’t have to be a professional therapist to understand.

Our family finds this book very useful. Our children could relate to Katie, and Dalton stated that he can compare himself to her. He shared that this book and the others in the series show that each of the adopted children in the family has “different needs, but each kid lived together in the same family, just like we do.” He appreciated the solutions mentioned in the book and asked to start using two of the strategies specifically.

Transfiguring Adoption overall finds this book very applicable for a foster or adoptive family. Katie Careful and the Very Sad Smile would be a great addition to a foster/adoptive family bookshelf.

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It’s Your Turn:

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Why did Katie smile all the time?
  2. Did her smile mean she was happy?
  3. What was Katie scared of? What kind of wobbly feelings did she have? Have you ever had those feelings? If you feel safe, you can share those feelings with your family, and they can help you.
  4. What made Katie feel better?
  5. What can your foster or adoptive parents do to help remind you that you are not forgotten?
  6. Would a parent putting a hand on your shoulder help you?
  7. Is there a secret code word they can say to you?


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I Love You Like Crazy Cakes – Foster Care and Adoption Book Review


From the Cover of I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis:

“Based on the author’s own experience, this heartfelt story follows a woman on her journey to adopt a baby girl from China. From paperwork to plane flight, the narrative chronicles the baby’s trip from a crib in a big room shared with many other babies to her own crib in her own room in her new home. Jane Dyer’s delicate watercolors perfectly complement this charming text, a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the world.”



Transfiguring Adoption gave this book 2 out of 5 Hoots based on it’s usefulness to foster and adoptive families. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here.]

What Our Family Thought:

Our family thought this book was best suited for preschool to elementary children who were adopted internationally. This book seemed to do an average job of keeping the attention of not only our elementary, middle school and high school kids but was merely average with the adults as well. Our kids, who were adopted from the American foster care system, appeared to have trouble identifying with any of the story.

The illustrations of the book use a realism that make it easy for small readers to visualize what happened during this true story.

This is a touching and heartfelt story about what appears to be a caucasian and American woman adopting a Chinese baby girl. The story is told in the first person from the point of view from the mother. The author seems to do a good job at expressing her emotions and experiences for her adoptive journey.

We felt that if you have a similar experience and were/are adopting from China, this book may be a useful tool for sharing with your adoptive child. However, we also felt that the book was so tailored for this family’s adoption journey that it is difficult for other families to see their own story within the pages.

An aspect of this book that we don’t want to go unnoticed is one of the final pages that tenderly thanks and pays homage to the Chinese birth mother. This part is not only tender but leaves you with a sense of respect and sympathy for the birth mother. In a world where birth parents can be villainized it is good to see this book address the unknown facts surrounding the birth family in a positive light.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. What country were you adopted from? What’s it like there?
  2. Did your parent(s) travel there by plane? What was the plane trip like for them?
  3. Were you scared or happy when you first met your parent(s)? How did they know that?
  4. What was your first night like with your present family?
  5. Do you ever think about visiting the country you came from? What would you do there?
  6. Do you ever think about your birth family? When? Why?
  7. Do your adoptive parent(s) love you? How do you know? How do they show it?