cover image LUCY'S FAMILY TREE


Karen Halvorsen Schreck, , illus. by Stephen Gassler III. . Tilbury, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-88448-225-3

Schreck's long-winded, laborious story introduces Mexican-born Lucy, adopted in infancy by an American couple. When her teacher gives an assignment to make a family tree and Lucy insists that she can't do it because she is "different," her parents challenge her to make a list of three families who are "the same." Predictably, the girl learns that each family she initially considers "typical" is not: Lucinda's mother is the breadwinner while her father cares for the children, Robert has two mothers, Dora and Seth have a stepfather and another family's youngest child died after being hit by a car. Lucy, of course, eventually completes the project, shaping a traditional clay Mexican Tree of Life that includes images of her birth parents and of her adoptive parents. Readers may have a tough time navigating through Schreck's narrative, laden with circuitous sentences (e.g., "When hard stuff came up—school stuff like grades, fickle friends, and boys; family stuff like rules, respect, and adoption—Lucy's parents looked at her with concern and love"). The paintings, unfortunately, seem both undefined and static. An endnote entitled "Rethinking a Family Tree Project" offers suggestions for making such activities "a comfortable learning experience for more students." Ages 6-10. (June)