When Lucy comes home from school with a family tree assignment, she asks her parents to write her a note to excuse her from the task. Lucy's adoption from Mexico makes her feel as though her family is
When Lucy comes home from school with a family tree assignment, she asks her parents to write her a note to excuse her from the task. Lucy's adoption from Mexico makes her feel as though her family is too "different," but her parents gently and wisely challenge Lucy to think some more about it and to find three families that are the "same."
As Lucy ponders her list of school and family friends who are "normal," she comes to realize that there are many different kinds of families. Her best friend Lucinda has a stay-at-home dad and a working mom. The brother and sister next door look alike and their family matches perfectly, but she discovers that they feel different in their neighborhood because they are Jewish. Her friend Robert has two "moms" who both cheer him on at soccer games, and the parent who attends all of Dora's and Seth's school events is their stepfather. Although her friends the Malones certainly look like an "all-American family," Lucy knows they've suffered a loss that doesn't always show on the outside.
Lucy wins her bet with her parents in a surprising way and ends up creating a family tree that celebrates both her past and present. This is a wonderful book for exploring family diversity and what constitutes a family. Two pages at the back of the book offer further suggestions for parents and teachers, with new approaches for the traditional family tree project.
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2001 -- Children's Book Council, NSTA
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2001 Honor Book -- Society of School Librarians International
"...a wonderful book that captivates, entertains, and educates the reader from cover to cover." -- Adoption Today
"...celebrates family diversity in a truly interesting and constructive manner." -- Friends Journal
"...a good book for a teacher who just doesn't understand that many families no longer fit the old mold!" -- Jewish Children's Adoption Network
"...an authentic job of capturing the powerful responses adopted kids have to identity issues raised by this assignment...an important contribution." -- PACT, An Adoption Alliance
"A family tree is not simple for an adopted child, and Lucy's adoption from Mexico makes her feel different. Lucy's wise and sensitive parents encourage her to find a way to complete the assignment: they will release her from the obligation if she can find three families that are the 'same.' Lucy's discoveries provide profound insights for all readers and teachers." -- Yellow Brick Road
"A beautiful exploration of how one family lets their child figure out a problem for herself." -- Maine Sunday Telegram
"...a journey that leads the young girl and the book's readers to discover that few families fit the traditional image.... By the conclusion, Lucy feels better about her situation and has devised a way to create a family tree that honors both her birth parents and the parents who are raising her." -- Pioneer Press
View Biographical note
Karen Halvorsen Schreck received her Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the recipient of an American Fiction Award, A Pushcart Prize in Fiction, and an Illinois State Arts Council Grant. She lives with her husband and their two children in Wheaton, Illinois. Karen is also the author of a YA novel, Dream Journal.
Stephen Gasler is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.