Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

Emma’s Story – a picture book about families, international adoption

Posted on April 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts reviews Emma's Story - a picture book about families, international adoptionEmma’s Story written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Picture book about families and international adoption published by Tundra Books

Emma and her brother are baking cookies at Grandma’s house. They use cookie cutters to make a sweet cookie family and then decorate the tasty treats with candies and dried fruit. When Grandma lifts the cookie tray out of the oven, she admires the cookie family but Emma is surprised to see the cookie that Sam has decorated.

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said.

Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

This is a story that Emma has heard before. In fact, she helps Grandma to tell the story properly. It seems that Mommy, Daddy, Sam and their dog Marley were very happy but they longed for a baby girl. They waited and waited for a little girl to arrive. Finally, they heard about a baby girl in China who needed a family.

Emma’s Story tells of the family’s excited preparations folowed by Mommy and Daddy’s long trip to meet Emma. We witness the new family’s first night and day together and their trip home to Canada. A large crowd meets the threesome at the airport and joyfully celebrate’s Emma’s arrival.

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words,

It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

While perhaps not meant for every bookshelf, Emma’s Story offers a very reassuring message and one that bears repeating. Just as Emma likes to hear her story and be comforted by it, children who share the international adoption experience will be similarly reassured by this book.

Detailed illustrations enhance Emma’s Story, especially when showing facial expressions.

Emma’s Story at

Emma’s Story at

Exploring Themes of Adoption and Family in Post War Italy

Posted on October 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Take Me With You by Carolyn Harsden, middle grade historical fiction about adoption and familyTake Me With You written by Carolyn Marsden
Chapter book for middle grades published by Candlewick Press

Last evening I finished the last few chapters of Take Me With You by Carolyn Marsden. It was a particularly satisfying ending to an enjoyable “read.” The concluding chapters left some questions unanswered but were both positive and hopeful in tone.

Take Me With You tells the story of two orphaned young girls who both live at Istituto di Gesu in post-war Naples, Italy. The girls are best friends who each long for life as part of a family. Susanna and Pina live in poverty within the four walls of church-run orphanage, seldom venturing into town.

Susanna is referred to as a mulatta. Her mother was an Italian, her father was an American soldier. Susanna fears that her hair and skin tone will deter potential adoptive parents as she does not look like other young Italian girls.

Pretty, blond, Pina wants deperately to be adopted but discovers that her mother has not yet signed the documentation that would allow an adoption to go ahead. Pina is heartbroken when she finally meets the woman who abandoned her. She is forced to come to terms with her mother’s indifference and does so with the help of her friend and one of the nuns at the orphanage.

Recommended for middle grade readers, Take Me With You deals with serious issues with tenderness and sensitivity. The outcome is optimistic while remaining realistic. The book will primarily appeal to girls although it is entirely suitable for both boys and girls.

Lexile Level – 640L

Take Me with You at

Take Me with You at

My Sister Gracie by Gillian Johnson Leads to New Tricks for Fabio

Posted on January 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at picture book My Sister Gracie
My Sister Gracie – Written and illustrated by Gillian Johnson
Picture book published by Tundra Books

Fabio, an “only” dog, longs for a brother. He dreams of exploring a park, sharing a bone and playing together with his new buddy. Imagine Fabio’s surprise when his new brother is a sister – and not at all like the playful puppy he envisioned. Thankfully, teasing neighborhood dogs help Fabio appreciate and love his newly adopted sister, Gracie.

32 pages, recommended for children aged 3 to 5

My Sister Gracie at

My Sister Gracie at

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

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