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HOME FOR A WHILE by Lauren H. Kerstein


by Lauren H. Kerstein ; illustrated by Natalia Moore

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-4338-3187-4
Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

A child in foster care benefits from his foster mother’s patience and care.

Calvin (who presents as White with light skin and curly brown hair) has his guard up when he arrives at the home of his new foster mother, Maggie (who appears in the illustrations as a woman of color with brown skin and even curlier, darker hair). The narration doesn’t provide a backstory to explain how and why he came to Maggie’s home, but it does identify it as “another house,” which suggests this isn’t his first foster placement. Calvin doesn’t want to unpack, and he feels both unwanted and anxious about starting at a new school. Maggie wisely gives him space and respects his rejection of hugs. She also responds patiently when Calvin acts out destructively, redirecting his behavior and modeling calming breathing techniques. In time, Calvin accepts Maggie’s affection and seems to internalize her affirming statements. Ultimately, the book is as much a model for foster parents as it is a story to provide validation of foster children’s experiences, though Calvin’s final statements that Maggie is “like a mama bear” and “like no one I’ve ever met” (this latter phrase echoing Maggie’s oft-repeated affirmation of Calvin’s specialness) may come across as somehow denigrating his Mama, who is depicted lovingly on earlier pages. Maggie and Calvin’s dialogue is color-coded, purple for Maggie and red for Calvin, with narrative text in black. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.3% of actual size.)

Gentle and wise—especially as a read for foster parents.

(Picture book. 3-8)