Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison. Not a children’s fiction title, this book reminded me of the dozens of women I know who are just like author Kathy Harrison, foster moms and adoptive moms who are called and able to parent damaged and abused children who come to their homes via CPS with love, courage, patience, and realism. In fact, I know of a little girl right now who’s adopted and in need of a heart transplant. She’s four years old, and her adoptive mom is pouring out her life at the hospital, taking care of and praying for C. Would you say a prayer for them, too?
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. I read these two books back to back, by chance, and they meshed well. Another Place is nonfiction about one couple’s experience as foster parents in Massachusetts. The Higher Power of Lucky is Newbery Award winning fiction about Lucky, a young resident of hard Pan, CA (pop. 43, whose guardian is Brigitte, her father’s first wife from France. Lucky’s mom died in an accident, and Lucky is just as insecure about her place in the world and her future as are many of Mrs. Harrison’s foster children. The Higher Power of Lucky should be comforting and familiar for children like Lucky who live in fosterhomes and other insecure situations, and it mught just help the rest of us understand those children a little better. On top of that, it’s a good story and one which will add new words to some vocabularies (scrotum, crevice, commodity, cremation).
I recommend Another Place at the Table for anyone considering foster parenting or foster-to-adopt. ALso, people like me who are interested in children and in mental health issues should be able to learn something from Mrs. Harrison’s account of her experiences, both good and bad, in the foster care system. I recommend The Higher Power of Lucky for its quirky characters and setting and its true-to-life description of the thoughts and feelings of a kid trying to survive in a family and in a community that are both a little shaky and unstable at times.
“Lucky had a little place in her heart where there was a meanness gland. The meanness gland got active sometimes when Miles was around. She knew he knew he had to do what Lucky wanted, because if he didn’t , she’d never be nice to him. Sometimes, with that meanness gland working, Lucky liked being mean to Miles.”
(Don’t we all have one of those glands? I believe Christians call it a sin nature.)
” . . . the valve that kept secrets locked up in Lucky’s heart was clamped shut.”
“It made her feel discouraged, like if you took the word apart into sections of dis and couraged. It was getting harder and harder to stay couraged.”
“The sky arched up forever, nothing but a sheet of blue, hiding zillions of stars and planets and galaxies that were up there all the time, even when you couldn’t see them. It was kind of peaceful and so gigantic it made your brain feel rested. It made you feel like you could become anything you wanted, like you were filled up with nothing but hope.”
So, in spite of death (her mother) and desertion (by her father), Lucky’s got “a sense of hope.” And I, for one, am a lot more concerned about that aspect of a children’s book than about any scrotal references.