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My Family Is Forever

by Nancy CarlsonViking Books; $15.99

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Nancy Carlson has written and illustrated more than 50 children’s books, including There’s a Big, Beautiful World Out There!; I Like Me!; and Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! In her new book, My Family Is Forever, an unnamed young girl considers the similarities and differences in the members of her biological and adoptive families. Her healthy individuality and sense of humor shine throughout her musings.

“This is me,” the book begins. “And this is my friend, Jeffrey. Jeffrey has his mom’s red hair and his dad’s big ears. My family was formed by adoption, so I look just like…me! (And I’m pretty cute.)”

The narrator wonders about her biological parents: “Does my birth mother’s hair stick up like mine? Is my birth father a good reader like me?” The story concludes with her belief that “no matter where I go or what I do, I’ll always have my family by my side…because families are forever!”

Carlson—who is known for her sensitive handling of real-life topics—does an excellent job of hitting the type of messages that adoptive parents want to convey to our children; her tone is right-on. I was especially pleased with the young child’s curiosity about both of her birthparents, not just her birthmother.

Thanks to the author’s stellar reputation, this book will reach a wide audience. Because even those without ties to the adoption community will encounter it in libraries, bookstores, and classrooms around the country, my hope is that the book will promote a better understanding of adoption.

I had the pleasure of talking with Carlson recently about My Family Is Forever when she visited the library where I work. After Carlson’s visit, my son, Aaron, proudly presented an autographed copy of My Family Is Forever to his 4-year-old sister, Natalie, who was adopted from Russia. As the three of us sat down to read it together, I imagined families throughout Ames, Iowa—whether or not they had ties to adoption—doing the same.

Reviewed by Kay Marner, a mother by birth and adoption, who works for the public library in Ames, Iowa.

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