4 out of 4 stars
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In A Home for Bessie by Jennifer Aicher, Gabby is a foster child longing for a forever home for herself and her doll. The children's book is written from Gabby's perspective, describing the challenges she faces going from home to home. Bessie is Gabby's treasured possession, and the little girl does her best to create a home for her doll, regardless of where they live. Aicher plans to donate "50% of the profits of this book" to foster agencies.
Aicher writes the emotionally evocative children's story in the first-person narrative from the perspective of Gabby. Recommended for ages preschool through sixth grade, the book addresses relevant topics and themes, such as acceptance, security, love, belonging, disappointment, resourcefulness, rejection, and happiness. It is professionally edited and features colorful illustrations that include a combination of photographs, children's drawings, and digitally enhanced images. Although I read the PDF format, I noticed that the Amazon sample didn't seem to be formatted properly. The several-page layout may turn away some prospective readers.
I especially like the illustrations featuring photographs of a series of dollhouses that Gabby constructed for Bessie from discarded items. The illustrations accompany a heartbreaking portion of the story that describes the little girl's sadness when the foster parent's child repeatedly takes her things, including her crafted dollhouses. Aicher captures how a child might creatively use discarded items, and the little houses come to life through Gabby's imagination. At the end of the book, Aicher explains that she created the dollhouses as part of a recycled art competition.
However, in one instance, the story lacks clarity. After Gabby expresses her frustration about her toys constantly being taken by the other child, several pages include detailed descriptions of her handmade dollhouses. Although the accompanying illustration provides some context, the narrative needs transitional text before abruptly jumping back to the other child again: "Once she saw it, I couldn't use it again." Also, Gabby's use of the word "transparent" seems unrealistic for her age.
I am pleased to rate A Home for Bessie 4 out of 4 stars. Aicher sensitively portrays a foster child's perspective in an age-appropriate manner. I recommend the book to foster children, foster parents, and teachers. It is also an excellent resource for readers interested in learning more about the foster care system.
A Home for Bessie
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