YOU'RE NOT MY REAL MOTHER

Molly Friedrich, Author, Christy Hale, Illustrator , illus. by Christy Hale. Little, Brown $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-60553-3

In her first book, literary agent Friedrich takes on a hot-button topic for adoptive parents and children and offers a sensitive response to an inevitable declaration. "You know, Mom, you're not my real mother," a pigtailed Asian girl, looking wistfully in a mirror, tells her blonde mommy. Writing from direct experience, Friedrich crafts a thoughtful dialogue between mother and daughter that probes what "real" can mean. "Does a real mother teach you the alphabet and how to count to a hundred by tens?" the mother asks. "And does a real mother love you, hug you, smother you with kisses...?" The book's high point comes when the mother addresses the loaded question, "But why don't you look like me?" Her answer, loving but honest, bolsters the girl's confidence, and the narrative voice switches as the child lists all the ways her mother makes her happy ("You jump with me on the trampoline!"). Hale's (the Elizabeti books) emotive if occasionally inconsistent portraits of the girl engaged in everyday activities with her mother—brushing teeth, cooking dinner—underscore the duo's close connection, and the pages thrum with joy (the ebullient family dog also adds a dash of humor). With its love-builds-a-family message, this book is a good conversation starter and a reassuring read for adoptive children, especially in multiracial families. Ages 3-6. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2004
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Ebook - 978-0-316-08912-8
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