4 out of 4 stars
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When Mom and Dad came home from the hospital with three-year-old Tracy's new baby brother, Mark, she couldn't wait to hold him--just as she'd practiced with her baby doll. She was ready to be the perfect helper and make Mom proud, but when she asked to hold the baby, Mom said he wasn't ready yet. Tracy was so disappointed. Since then, she felt sad and missed the way she and Mommy used to spend time together. Now, Tracy spent more and more time with Daddy because Mommy was always helping Mark exercise or taking him to therapy. Like the new word Daddy had taught her about football, Mark's "in-ter-fer-ence," was keeping Mommy away from her, and she wished he would go away, instead.
Weavy Things by Barbara Ann Leonard is a large print chapter book that introduces the young reader to the concept of finding creative solutions for families challenged by caring for a child with special needs. Written for elementary readers, but applicable to the whole family, the story addresses issues such as sibling rivalry, parental time constraints, practical work-life alternatives, faith, and prayer. Through the easy-to-understand plot, and using Tracy’s camp weaving project as an illustration, the reader is provided with a positive example of how lovingly working together can weave the best path for the whole family. The story is told from the perspectives of both Tracy and her mother, and the author also presents the themes of faith and prayer as steps to resolving conflicts.
What I like most about this book was that in addition to illustrating how three-year-old Tracy is feeling, the author also gives young readers a glimpse into the mother's frame of mind. Her struggle to balance the challenges of caring for a son with special needs while not neglecting her daughter's feelings and juggling a demanding work schedule is realistic and presented in a way that children can understand. As the story continues and her mother begins to work from home, Tracy's relationship with her brother improves, and readers are provided with an example of seeking creative solutions to solve conflicts at home and at work. I also appreciated that part of the solution began with Mom's prayers which may be encouraging to young readers.
However, I did notice a few areas that might prove confusing for some young readers. First, in the second chapter, Tracy shifts from referring to her mother as Mommy, instead of Mom, as she did in the first chapter. I know some kids switch back and forth between maternal names, but I thought it more likely that Mom would be adopted as Tracy got older, instead of the other way around. Regarding the timeline, in the first chapter, Mark is a newborn. The second chapter mentions that two years have passed, and then three pages later, Mark has already had his third birthday. As an adult, I found myself thumbing back through pages to make sure I'd read correctly. Even so, these were minor distractions which didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the book.
I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to the suggested elementary reader audience as well as parents, grandparents, and teachers of young children. It will also appeal to families who have children with any type of special needs.
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