Creating a safe a nurturing environment for a child that has suffered a family loss requires empathy and compassion on the part of those responsible for providing care for this child. Fearful and apprehensive at first when placed in an unknown home with strangers, any young child might regress and hide within themselves not wanting to speak for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.
Author Theresa Ann Fraser with along with the colorful and expressive illustrations by Alex Walton brings the story heartwarming story titled Billy Had To Move: A Foster Care Story for readers of all ages.
How do you tell a young child that his life is about to dramatically change because the person that loved and cared for him , his grandmother passed away. A social worker came to his school and explained what happened to this young boy and Billy was trying to process what he was told yet afraid and fearful of his future. Mr. Murphy the social worker explained that he would be living with another family, he would take him to his grandmother’s funeral and then hopefully find him a permanent home. That’s a lot for him to process and who could blame him for shedding tears. Billy was worried about his cat Miffy but , Mr. Murphy told him that someone was going to care for the cat. Then things changed and he was brought to a home with whatever was packed for him and was greeted by a nice lady named Amy. From the moment she opened the door and greeted him you could tell that this social worker really cared about Billy and must have researched the couple making sure they would care for him like he was their own.
This is a powerful story that reminds social workers, guidance counselors, foster parents like Amy and her husband, that these children need love, understanding, a feeling of security and hugs like their own children. They need to know they are wanted and safe from harm as the author continues letting us get to Amy and her daughter Colleen that Billy seemed to fall in love with right away.
Billy had a lot of adjustments to make and from the start Amy took the time to talk with him and make him part of the family but Billy bedded more. Anger can set in , anxiety and panic and these issues and more are discussed in this book as the author through Mr .Murphy and Amy’s intuitiveness realize that Billy needs a way to express his feelings, fears and anger in a way that was safe, orderly and controlled. The images of his grandmother remain in his mind and the illustration that encompasses it will warm your heart to Billy as his memory holds him tight. The past will always be part of his life and his love for Colly is exceptional and real. Amy seems to be concerned about his emotional status and with the help of Mr. Murphy, Mrs. Woods is a introduced and her role as a child and play therapist is vital to his progress if he takes to her and will allow her to teach him to use play therapy as a way to express his feelings, thoughts and fears hoping this mode of therapy helps will deal with the loss of his grandmother and not knowing where is mother might be. Hard for any child ay any age.
Headaches, stomach aches, physical problems and dreams that keep him awake are just some of what Billy experiences and has to overcome. Foster care is a responsibility for those adults that undertake it. As an educator I have worked with foster parents of some of my students and was able to see the signs of caring parents and those that requires I take steps with the social workers to find out why some children might need another placement. The author shows the positive side of foster care and the focus is on helping not only Billy but Amy and her family to teach Billy ways to overcome his sadness, find ways to express himself and know that’s it’s okay to feel frustrated and scared. Through Mrs. Woods he might even learn that using the sand tray and other modes like art or painting or games to express himself is a positive start.
The illustrations alone tell the story and the facial expressions created are realistic. The author includes information for caregivers and resources for educators, foster parents and counselors. Foster parents need to be monitored more carefully and the author through Mrs. Woods let’s Billy know and understand that he can report or tell a grownup he trusts if someone is hurting him or he’s afraid of a person for some reason.
The ending is open ended as we learn more about where Billy will live but will it be permanent? Will they ever find his mother? Will Amy and her husband adopt him and give him a permanent home?
Will Billy figure out all of his feelings that get him mixed up?
Although the book is geared for children ages 4-7 I think that even older children will benefit from reading about Billy and not every foster care situation is negative. I hope the author allows readers to continue and learn where he finds himself when he’s older.
Once again author Theresa Ann Fraser and illustrator Alex Walton raises the bar and enlightens parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, therapists and even children to understand the true meaning of caring and nurturing a young child. Great for group discussions, guidance counselors that have small group discussions and school administrators who need to monitor along with social workers the care of the foster children in their schools.
This review courtesy of Fran Lewis Just Reviews
Theresa Ann Fraser