Home for a While

Magination. Feb. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781433831874.
K-Gr 2–A foster child tests his foster mother’s patience, but she takes him exactly as he is and gains his trust, quieting his fears, and giving him a safety that he seems never to have experienced. Calvin is a tiny white boy who is full of cynicism about this latest place he’s landed in: “Calvin clunked his suitcase up the steps of another house. ‘This isn’t your home,’ his thoughts shouted. ‘Nobody wants you,’ his feelings rumbled.” Of course he’s protecting himself, and asks Maggie, his foster mother, why she asks if she can hug him good night. “Because you’re quite huggable,” she answers, and he wants to know more. “Why didn’t anyone else think that?” he asks. This story takes apart the fostering experience as few books have—from the newcomer’s point of view. Calvin smashes objects and waits for punishment, but Maggie, who is Black, presents as someone with deep wells of compassion. She takes a breath, and tries to see what’s behind Calvin’s moves. The illustrations show a humble home full of snug details, with bright swashes of paint filling in the details and centering the budding relationship between Calvin and Maggie, as she slices through his fear with truths he comes to believe.
VERDICT Most books with this much purpose fall down on the lessons. This one transcends them, for a true story of how a home happens.

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