Hikes and Hair

 This is the view from the playground by our house. We love standing on the hill and looking out over the rolling prairie and farms. It’s like a picture book scene: a little town in the distance, trains chugging by in the valley, livestock dotting the distant grass by miniature barns and houses. The ridge always catches a breeze, and hiking trails lead off through the long grass and wildflowers. We stop by as often as we can to savor the changing seasons. Last week I took the big three while The Man stayed with the napping baby. After playground time and a short hike we switched off duties so The Man could take Jack to the barber.

Though we have much to learn yet adoption has already forced us to grow, change, and challenge our own assumptions. For example, before adopting African American kids we had no idea how important hair is in black culture. Hair must always be moisturized and well-groomed. Girls typically wear their hair in protective styles like cornrows or twists. Putting girls’ hair down in a twist out or an Afro is for special occasions only. Many white adoptive families (us included before we learned better!) keep their black daughters’ hair loose and dry. However, that choice leaves kids outsiders in the black community; unkempt hair outside the home is on par with wearing filthy clothes, not brushing your teeth, or never bathing. Likewise, many white families  just buzz their black sons’ hair at home – after all it’s cheaper and easier than heading out. However, black barbershops are a community cornerstone for black men and boys. Many black males get their hair lined up by their barber every week. Black barbershops are a place to socialize, develop inter-generational ties, share news, and learn skills for thriving as a minority in our society. Many adult transracial adoptees regret a childhood of standing out everywhere as the only representative of their race in white communities. They remember being the token black student in their grade, the only non-white kid at the park, and so on. Later, as independent adults who’ve lost the visible connection to their parents and token “white card” black adoptees often find themselves on the fringe of the white community, but unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in the black community as well. As adoptive parents, we believe adult adoptees are one of the best resources for learning pitfalls and plusses in adoptive parenting.

Although we have several African-American neighbors, on average our new town is much less racially diverse than our old town. Since moving we’ve been hunting for church, school, commercial, and social opportunities with positive racial mirrors for our kids. Thanks to a recommendation from friends we finally found a great black barbershop. I grew up oblivious to racial issues and assuming that racism was rare or non-existent in our Midwestern town. Most neighbors would have said they didn’t see or care about color. But there, as anywhere, overt and systemic racism was all around us. My kindergarten teacher sent the only black students to the principle constantly because she didn’t want them in her class. Police stopped black boys just for waiting in their cars in predominantly white areas. A large group of young black men would have been viewed with suspicion by people in the community. What a healthy adjustment now, after lots of hunting, to find a barbershop full to bursting with black teenage boys sent by their parents for fresh cuts before church on Sunday, dads with young sons, businessmen, seniors out to socialize on a weekend morning. Where, for a change, our son blends in with the majority and my husband is the sole white guy in the room. Jack came back bursting with pride in his sharp looking bald fade (and delighted with the three lollipops he scored for a haircut). We’re happy to have another great resource for our son as he matures. That’s not to say he’s so mature right now. This is what happens when I ask him to smile for a photo with his sister:


What’s in a Name?

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I don’t know about you, but I love naming kids. I love playing with name combinations, looking at lists, scrolling through ancestors’ records, and surprising family and friends with our final choice (we don’t tell in advance). However, the difference between “real life” kid names and blog names is that real life imposes deadlines. The adoption agency contacted us to ask if we’d adopt the twins, then immediately followed up with a request for names for legal paperwork. We named the twins in the process of a walk around the block. Luckily we already had a short list at that point since their original adoption fell through two months before. The baby got her real name after just a couple of days – we had general favorites, but since we learned of her existence one week, met her a week later, and adopted her the week after that it wasn’t exactly a lengthy process! However, with a blog I have license, in theory, to play with names forever. And I probably would, if I could. There are so many blog options without taking names you’ve “saved” for real life. There are the names you love, but that won’t work with your last name. The ones that saddle a kid with embarrassing nicknames or initials. The ones already claimed by close relatives. The ones where you like the nickname but not the full name. At this point, though, the deadline on calling Kid #3 “the baby” is…the next baby. So, after months of procrastinating and calling her “the baby” here on the blog, the current baby will henceforth be known as Jenny.

Before social workers and the adoption agency got involved our baby had no NICU visits from parents, family, and friends. She didn’t even have a name. The NICU staff, volunteers, and hospital providers went above and beyond to make sure she was nurtured and loved during that time. Various hospital staff who knew about the lone baby in Pod D would stop by during work breaks to hold her. Volunteers snuggled her; one elderly man (a retired doctor) rocked and cuddled her for hours on a regular basis. Doctors and hospital social workers checked in regularly, advocated for her needs, and set the ball rolling when it became clear that going home with her birth family was not an option. And through it all, the huge nursing team provided round-the-clock care and love. As she got bigger they even pooled their own money to buy her clothes, blankets, and hats so she had things of her own instead of having to use the hospital’s supply. Her primary nurses, Jennifer and Lisa, cared for her several shifts each week throughout her hospitalization. Jennifer, especially, was there from the beginning. She helped admit her when the helicopter brought her to the hospital, and continued to shower her with love, nurturing, and prayers for three and a half months until she was released from the hospital. Jennifer took the baby’s clothes home to wash and even gave her a temporary name so that those caring for her wouldn’t have to keep calling her Baby Girl. [The name she picked, by the way, was a lovely name – it just happens to be waaaay overused in our family so we didn’t keep it as her permanent name]. When we met our daugher-to-be for the first time, Jennifer placed her in our arms. So, in honor of her foster mother Jennifer, Baby Jenny it is!

Barbershop Quartet

We’ve always cut Jack’s hair at home. However, this morning I took him out for his first barbershop haircut. The Aquaphor incident left Jack’s hair looking patchy, gummed, and motheaten despite our best attempts with scissors and scrubbing. Our clippers pieces are broken and distributed among three cabinets, and it was $6.95 cut day at Great Clips.

I settled into a styling chair with Jack on my lap. We were the first customers of the day so all four stylists gathered around to chat and watch his 1.5 on the top/1 on the sides materialize as they waited for business.

“Awww. Look how good he’s being!” “Is he talking yet?” “How old is he?”

“Two and a half.”

The clippers continued buzzing round Jack’s head while he sat silent and wide-eyed (a rare state for him).

“He’s so cute! How many kids do you have?”

“Three, with number four on the way.”

“Oh, so he must be the youngest then.”

“Uh, well, no…he’s the eldest.”

*clippers freeze in midair* *blank wide-eyed stares from four pairs of eyes*

What can I say. We’ve yet to mail Christmas thank you notes and last summer’s vegetable garden still needs to be cleared, but we’ve been extremely efficient about accumulating children these last two years.

2014 in Review, Part 1: January – June

It seems everyone on the internet wrote family reviews covering the past year. I like the idea because I only wrote sporadically in 2014 but there are many details I don’t want to forget. Our year was blessed, busy, and full of big ups and downs: illness, travel, a back injury, extreme work stress through the winter and spring, a new baby, weeks in the NICU, another new baby… Fair warning that this is a long, unedited post full of run-on sentences and giant photo dumps. All but the grandmothers, beware!









(All photos from our Illinois trip, bottom three by my awesome sister-in-law, who runs her own photography business).

After hosting the Man’s family at our home for Christmas we flew to Illinois to spend New Year’s with my family.It was so nice to catch up with my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, niece, and nephew. After several days at my parents’ place we drove into Chicago to spend a few days with the Man’s family as well. Unfortunately we all caught a vicious cold that knocked most of the family off their feet for four solid weeks.  Rather than spending time out in the snow or exploring in downtown Chicago we mostly stayed in by the fire and coughed. I ended up in the ER with pleurisy (…it felt so…Dickensian. Who knew that was still a real diagnosis?). Even after we flew home we all slogged through most of the month feeling feverish, miserably sick, and sleep-deprived from pathetic babies who coughed so hard they vomited at night for many weeks. In addition, the Man’s hospital started the new year deep in preparation for a major inspection that kept him away from home and stressed much of the time. It was a rough start to the year! Bright points in the month included catching up with our families, Jack learning to walk in Illinois (cheered on by crowds of relatives), celebrating our niece’s first birthday after a medically rocky year, visits to Daddy at work when he couldn’t come home for evenings, and welcoming our fifth anniversary at the end of the month.












Things finally began to improve on the illness front. The Man and I celebrated our anniversary a few days late by hiring a babysitter and taking a day away by ourselves to hike in the snowy woods, grab some Mexican food, and enjoy baby-free conversation. Extended time together and long outdoor expeditions without kids’ on our backs are very rare treats these days; our hiking day was one of the high points of the year. We also enjoyed a few rounds of beautiful snow. While the Man’s work continued to be intensely stressful, things felt quieter on the home front. I got the house back in order after our sick month, cooked, played with the twins, and took them out as often as possible for walks, hikes, and outdoor time. Just for fun at the end of the month we took a quick weekend trip to Charlotte, NC. Everyone enjoyed the break from work tension and the chance for a little “city time”. We rented a small cheap apartment downtown via airbnb and spent a couple of days walking, hiking, enjoying treats like French pastries and Chinese takeout, exploring the city center and old neighborhoods, eating breakfast out, and (wheeee!) wandering IKEA for an afternoon while the Man stayed with our napping toddlers. There isn’t an IKEA for hours around our home, which is probably a good thing for our bank account. We also racked up our first (but far from last) call to poison control after the kids found a scent diffuser plugged into the apartment wall, broke it open, sucked down the gel, and vomited on the rental’s couch. Lovely!








For the most part, I stayed home with the kids while the Man battled ever-increasing inspection tasks at work. There were lots of long days and late nights. On weekends off, we always loved gathering for worship on Sunday mornings, and joining our small group for Bible Study and a shared meal together on Sunday nights. The friendships we’ve made through church, and, in the last year and a half, our small group have been a rich source of encouragement, edification, and fun. Several months of increased stress on my back finally sent me to the pain clinic; several months of doctors visits, x-rays, chiropracter visits, and PT followed. As the weather warmed up, the kids and I spent many days out on walks or in the yard clearing up after winter and prepping the gardens for Spring planting. At 18 months Annie finally started walking one day as I played with her in the backyard (she’d had us nervous due to other developmental delays). At the end of the month the Man’s stepmother flew down to watch the twins for a long weekend while we drove off for our very first kid-free getaway together. We went to Savannah, Georgia, and absolutely loved the gorgeous architecture, much-lauded squares, food, and ambiance. Unfortunately, the Man’s work once again intervened. Mid-way through our first full day in the city hospital staff began calling and texting non-stop about the inspection. By that evening we learned we were being called back early. We left first thing the next morning. While we thought Savannah was amazing, incessant work interruptions and the Army cancelling our leave really put a damper on our special trip away sans kids. Perhaps another time.















We kicked off the month with a miserable bout of stomach flu. Once recovered, we headed to New York City with the twins for some meetings and time with extended family. From our fairly isolated town Manhattan is a very inconvenient place for a trip with small kids. Add in the logistics and costs of packing, sitters in another state, transportation with car seats, etc, then reversing the whole process two days later and it’s an enormous amount of work! However, most worthwhile things take some effort. It was a good change of pace to dress up, eat fancy dinners out, walk a bit in the city, sit in meetings, and catch up with family as the cousins played. We were glad to survive the trek back and resettle the kids into their usual routine, though! Once home we planted our vegetable garden. We also went through a very rough stretch of toddler tantrums with Annie (as in, four hours of screaming a day for a full week). We celebrated Easter with local friends (who patiently endured more toddler screaming, and took the family photo above) and spent lots of time outdoors soaking in the beautiful springtime South.



















As the twins edged closer to the two year mark we privately started talking about adoption again. We didn’t feel ready to adopt right away, but knew that the process can be very long. Since we knew that another lickety-split adoption like our first was highly unlikely (*cough* yes, well, we’ll see…), we mentally set a time frame of four years until another child came home. We hoped for something much faster, but didn’t want to get our hopes up in the face of long timelines and the usual bureaucracy. We quietly started to do a bit of internet research and talked about special needs adoptions. At the end of the month my parents visited. We celebrated my Dad’s birthday and then spent several days renting a cottage together right on the beach. If you’re traveling in a group, it definitely pays to rent a house; even though we stayed right on the beach and had a whole cottage to ourselves we spent far less than if we’d booked a couple of cheap hotel rooms further inland since we cooked our own meals. We loved the convenience of space to spread out and having the beach right out the door – no packing sandy toddlers and gear in and out of the car several times a day. We all soaked up time playing in the ocean, walking on the beach, boogie boarding, digging in the sand, exploring the local historic town, eating ice cream, watching dolphins, sea and skies out the cottage windows, wandering the marinas, playing games, and watching movies together. Unfortunately the tension of the never-ending inspection at the Man’s work continued to hang over our heads and interrupted the trip a few times. Regardless, it was so nice to spend time as a family, relax, and enjoy the ocean. Having my parents’ extra helping hands and staying right on the beach made it a real vacation for the Man and I (perhaps less so for the grandparents!). Nothing makes you appreciate your extended family like having small children! We don’t live near any of our family members, so their visits are always a treasured treat.
















Southern summer settled in. We played in sprinkler with the kids, took family bike rides, picked blueberries in our yard, grabbed homemade ice cream at the farm, ate dinners on the porch, and watched with pride as our toddlers took their first hike on their own legs. It’s a milestone as big as anything on the pediatricians’ charts in this outdoors family! On Father’s Day, our usually silent Annie who hadn’t really spoken in half a year and had never sung a “real” tune, surprised us by humming through “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” perfectly in its entirety unprompted. Definitely one of those “blink and stare at your child open-mouthed” moments. We put out preliminary inquiries to a few agencies for information packets on their domestic, international, and special needs adoption programs. We also emailed our old adoption agency just to see if adopting through them again was even a possibility. We mutually confirmed that another adoption with our old agency was not a good option since we’re likely to move out of state within the next year or two.

I stayed back with the toddlers while the Man headed to Chicago for some quality one-on-one time with his sisters, Dad, and stepmom. We had colds. He had dim sum, went to the Art Instititue of Chicago, and swam in Lake Michigan. It’s possible one of us had more fun :). I was so glad he got to enjoy a visit without the distraction of busy toddlers and their needs, though. The month ended on a sad note as we passed empty houses around town and empty pews in church. We’re in a military town, and June is peak PCS season. At least half a dozen of the families we knew best all packed up and moved to new postings simultaneously. Military life can be a gift when it brings new friends from all around, but it’s hard when duty calendars coincide and all your closest friends leave in a flood.

Explaining the recent blog silence….

Born in early May at 26 weeks gestation weighing just 1 Lb 10.8 oz or 1 Lb 13 oz (roughly 790 grams, but medical records disagree on the exact weight). Placed on a ventilator immediately after birth and rushed by helicopter from small regional hospital to major state medical center.

Spent almost three months in the NICU with no name and without visits from parents or friends.

Introduced to very-surprised-not-expecting-to-adopt-anytime-soon-not-even-signed-with-any-adoption-agencies-wait-we-only-adopted-twins-20-months-ago couple on July 30th:


Adopted on August 6th. Couple slightly shocked to find themselves with three children. Blink and try to remember where the new baby appeared from.

Released from the hospital on August 17th after 97 days in the NICU. Finally free of breathing assistance, feeding tubes, IVs, and monitors.

Home for six weeks. We are all in love. Baby Girl is delightfully chubby, sweet-natured, and doing well thanks to a large team of medical professionals coordinating her care.


[Not surprisingly, three children under two will keep a household very busy and a blog very quiet. Bear with me, please.] 

7 Quick Takes: African-American Picture Books, Part 2

To those who’ve commented and emailed: I’m so sorry it’s taking me a long time to respond. We’ve had a very busy month and I’m quite behind on correspondence and writing. Your thoughts and comments are very much appreciated, though!

A few weeks back I reviewed a few picture books featuring black main characters. Thank you so much to the many people who commented on the last post with additional book suggestions! As I mentioned, it’s hard to find picture books featuring African-American or African protagonists at our local bookstore. The few books our store carries tend to focus on the Civil Rights era and racism; important topics, but surely not the only time we should see black kids as the main characters in picture books. Good books are out there, but it takes a little hunting. As with any genre, some of the books are “twaddle”, some have good stories but weak illustrations (or vice-versa), some do not share our values, and some are truly excellent. I plan to continue to review books as we try them from the library.

1) Please, Puppy, Please by Spike and Tonya Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Carl and I both loved this funny, well-illustrated text, and the babies were captivated by the vivid illustrations. This sweet, simple story follows a day in the life of two children and their exuberant puppy. Appropriate for young children, though bigger kids might still enjoy the pictures and the humor while newly independent readers will enjoy the simple text they can read by themselves. 5 stars.

2) Where’s Jamela by Niki Daly

The Jamela books are a South African series. We’ve only tried Where’s Jamela so far, and I was very impressed. The illustrations are brilliant – full of life, action, and humor. The story is enjoyable, and the flavor of life in South Africa adds special fun to an already great story about spunky Jamela, her concerns about an upcoming move, her family and her warm and engaging neighborhood. We will definitely collect these books for our own shelves. 5 stars.

3) Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Aseem

A simple board book, appropriate for babies and toddlers. A mother wonders aloud about the owner of these fine strong brown knees she sees dangling from trees, etc. They turn out to belong to her son. Sweet, but not particularly interesting to read as a parent, and kids will outgrow it quickly. We will get this one out of the library but don’t plan to buy it for ourselves. 3 stars.

4) Where Does the Trail Lead? by Burton Albert, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

A boy explores a coastal trail passing tide pools, sand dunes, and driftwood, eventually arriving at his family’s campsite. While inoffensive and perhaps a nice add-in for a unit study on coastal areas, this book doesn’t have much of a story to catch kids’ interest. Overall the pictures felt a bit gray and bland. There’s nothing especially wrong with this book but it wasn’t my cup of tea. 2 stars.

5) He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson’s warm and beautiful illustrations bring the classic American spiritual to life. There’s no “story”, per se, just the lyrics of the hymn with images of a family enjoying time together in the world God created and shepherds. One thing I hadn’t realized before reading this book is that hymns/songs in book form are fantastic for babies. The music really helps them engage with books and enjoy reading together when they’re too small to truly understand the stories. It’s tough to say if older kids would enjoy this book – I suppose it depends on the child.  5 stars.

6) Lola at the Library, Lola Reads to Leo, and Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

I have mixed feelings about these books. Lola is very cute, and the illustrations are bright and happy. However, the text reads more like an advertisement for the library or books than a story. For example, Lola goes to the library and describes everything she likes to do at the library. There isn’t really a plot. Also, while I know the illustrations are cartoonish and I’m sure it’s not intentional, the illustration of Lola’s Dad almost looks more “monkey-like” than human. It was a bit unsettling and an unpleasant stereotype. Overall, these might be good books to read once to explain how a library works to a small child (Lola at the Library ) or accompany the arrival of a new baby sibling (Lola Reads to Leo). 3 stars.

It’s rare to find a book that features transracial/mixed-race families like ours. This book has very nice illustrations. That said, I don’t think the text would appeal to most kids (or to the parents who have to read it out loud). The words are rather stream-of-consciousness, a free-association description of all the skin colors in the children’s family. I’ve read comments from others describing this book as very meaningful to them as they grew up in mixed-race families so we may revisit it when the kids are bigger. For now it remains a library book. 2 stars.

Seven Quick Takes: Race and Picture Books

Race! And adoption! How’s that for a non-controversial start to a Friday? At least most people have no quibble with picture books.

Adopting kids of another race changes your perspective. Overt acts of racism aside, picturing myself in my kids’ shoes has made me realize how different the experience of everyday life can be for people of other races in our town. Early in our adoption process, I headed to the bookstore to pick up gifts for the babies’ half-brothers. It’s the only “new books” provider for 45 minutes around – a major national chain. At first, I reached for my favorite classic kids’ books. Maybe Mike Mulligan or Make Way for Ducklings or Ferdinand or… I flipped through the pages. In every single book, every single character was white. I paused. They’re wonderful stories, but it’d be thoughtful if the gifts showed someone of the boys’ race. I browsed through the children’s area for half an hour, growing increasingly frustrated. Almost every human character was caucasian. At best, some books portrayed a side-kick of another race. Only a handful of picture books featured an African-American or African kid as the main character, and an even tinier percentage weren’t specifically about the Civil Rights era (an important topic, but not the only one we want to read about with small kids). Of those (perhaps four or so) books, almost all were poorly written with mediocre illustrations. I walked out of the store with a new perspective and two “safe” human-free stories about construction trucks and  dinosaurs. 30-40% of our town’s population is black. What if I were an African-American five-year-old going to the bookstore? Wouldn’t I wonder why I couldn’t find a single fun story about a kid who looked like me?

On placement day we again brought gifts for the twins’ half-brothers. Remembering the bookstore experience, I headed to the toy store instead. In the aisles of superheroes and dolls and Legos and balls every human character was white. I finally, after much wandering, spotted one Playmobil set of rescue personnel with a black ambulance attendant (I bought a playdough kit). While waiting for adoption news I borrowed a few library books on caring for babies. My husband started reading through the instructions on infant care illustrated with plentiful photos. After a while he paused, paged back through a few sections, then said slowly “…all of these babies are white. None of them look like the kids we’re going to adopt.” We started over from the beginning and finally found a brown-skinned baby on page 99. She was Indian.

I don’t want to oversimplify, but for want of a better way to say it, much of our social structure assumes “whiteness” (an idea I would have scoffed at a year ago). Naturally some stories feature only white characters – Mike Mulligan is a pretty accurate reflection of a rural New England town or village. But shouldn’t that “naturally” run in two directions? We’ll be reading plenty of classics like Mike Mulligan, but I realized that I will need to search hard and carefully to build a good supplement of quality resources featuring characters who look like my kids. Knowing there are many other parents in the same boat (and plenty of families, regardless of race, who just enjoy good children’s books) the homeschooled kid and future homeschooling parent in me decided to periodically reviewing the resources we come across, both good and bad. I keep a running Pinterest page of books to try. Feel free to chime in with your recommendations or thoughts!


Please, Baby, Please by Spike and Tonya Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Highly recommended. A baby spends her day getting into mischief, testing her parents’ patience. The cover doesn’t do the bright, entertaining, full-page illustrations justice. The simple text is appropriate for small children. Detailed pictures draw the reader in, and we enjoy the humor as parents. Our babies can’t stop staring at the colorful pictures and trying to touch them. The Lees also wrote Please, Puppy, Please, which we’ve yet to read. Kadir Nelson illustrated a number of other books on our yet-to-try list including He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.


Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Catherine Stock. Highly recommended. Kondi, a resourceful little boy in Africa, spends his day collecting wire scraps to build a galimoto (a toy vehicle). An engaging storyline with great illustrations full of details from life in a small village. Neat, also, because I saw many handcrafted toys and masterpieces from wire scraps like this when in Kenya.


The Snowy Day, Peter’s Chair and the rest of the Peter series by Ezra Jack Keats. Highly recommended. Classics, and some of the very first US picture books featuring a black main character. Simple stories small kids can relate to. Creative illustrations made with Keats’ classic collage techniques.


Corduroy by Don Freeman. Highly recommended. A classic most of us grew up with. A little black girl named Lisa falls in love with a bear in the store window, but can’t take him home. Corduroy spends an adventurous night in the department store before eventually finding a real home with Lisa after all. Fun, sweet and irresistible to kids.


Hush Little Baby, Pegony-Po, Max Found Two Sticks, and numerous others by Brian and Andrea Pinkney. Pretty good. I have mixed feelings about these books. The Pinkneys are prolific authors and illustrators of children’s’ books featuring African American main characters. However, the quality is highly variable and despite colorful and vivid lines, the illustrations sometimes feel rather wooden. This is, perhaps, because the characters’ facial expressions rarely change no matter the mood or action in each illustration. Still, there are many more to try, the stories are clean, family-oriented, and gentle, and the pictures do capture our kids’ attention. Hush Little Baby tells, through the illustrations, a sweet story of a father and brother trying to comfort the baby of the family while Mama is off to town. We will try each potential option from the library before deciding to invest in a copy for home.


Happy Christmas Gemma by Sarah Hayes, illustrated by Jan Ormerod. Recommended. Borrowed from the library at Christmas. A boy narrates preparations for Christmas and the antics of his baby sister. We both loved the illustrations. This story is nothing out of this world, just a warm, gently funny tale. A nice unique flavor, too, since the characters are a black family living in Britain with relatives in Jamaica.


More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams. I don’t like to give negative reviews, but this book just did not appeal to us. On the plus side (and this is actually a big, rare plus) it features families of multiple races and transracial families with a white Grandma and a black grandson. Also, it won the Caldecott Honor medal for its illustrations which have gotten rave reviews from other readers. However, my husband and I both found the illustrations rather garish/clashy and not very enjoyable to look at. We also weren’t particularly interested in the text. I found it a bit hard to pick up the right rhythm for read aloud. It’s possible our kids would like it when they’re bigger, but as parents who would have to read it over and over, we’re exercising veto power and not buying it. I suppose this is another one to get from the library and choose for yourself – tastes differ.

Images from Amazon, Goodreads, and other linked sources. Most books available on Amazon. For other Seven Quick Takes entries please visit Conversion Diary.