Thursday, 22 September 2016

Who's got a normal family?

By Belinda Nowell and illustrated by Miลกa Alexander
Little Steps Publishing, Glebe 2016.  ISBN 9781925117752.

“I read the book three times… it makes people feel okay about the type of family they have”, said one primary school reader

Who’s got a normal family?
‘Who’s got a normal family?’ a delegate at the recent ACWA* conference read out loud.  “Well whose family is normal?” she asked, laughing. It’s not hard to see why this recent Australian book caught the interest of many who came by our ACWA resource booth.

With two hats on, one friendly delegate working with children in out-of-home care, had also recently become a foster parent. She said how helpful this book would be for a sibling adjusting to a new family member.

Welcome to a new foster child
The story is about Alex, an easy going boy. It is news time at school, Alex is greeted with classroom cheers when he tells the children his new baby foster sister has arrived. That is all except one boy, Jimmy Martin, who has a “stomp in his step and upside-down smile”. He yells “babies are boring” and “she’s not your real sister”.

Alex is sad and asks his mum about “normal families” when he gets home from school. She pulls out his class photo and they talk about the families at school. Alex’s mum is a supportive adult presence who helps sort through Alex’s difficult emotions.

Different but unique 
This picture book entices readers with its character-filled illustrations. Each school child is introduced with their family. Alex is a foster child, Alir came to Australia for safety with his large family, Eva has a daddy but not a mummy, Henry has two dads, etc. With an upbeat tone, Alex chats about what makes each child and family unique. There’s a sense of fun and acceptance which makes this book enjoyable to read.

Something to share
Alex finds a way, with the help of his mum, to connect with Jimmy. He realises Jimmy is sad because his daddy doesn’t live with him anymore. Alex shares what he has just learned about “normal families” with Jimmy, as well as showing him his hidden blue-tongue lizard family and all ends well.
Who might like this book?

Families with infant school children, the book is aimed at children 5-7 years. Younger children and older independent readers may also find this book engaging and helpful.

More resources
  • Dhiiyaan is a beautiful reading App written and illustrated by Elaine Russell, for grandparent kinship carers to share with their kids.
  • Healthcare professionals may want to look at Out of homecare and healthcare pathways, by NSW Health.

You are like you and The Internet is like a puddle A Big Hug Book Series, recent Australian resources displayed at our ACWA* conference booth.

Have you found a children’s resource promoting child wellbeing to recommend? If so, please let us know.

 * Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA) is the NSW non-government peak body representing the voice of community organisations working with vulnerable children, young people and their families.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
September 2016