Vol. 20, No. 1 • November 2015

Book Review
Shelby and Me: A Resource for Maintainign Connections

Every once in a while someone will come up with a new take on a classic dish, dramatically improving something we thought we knew all about. Donna Foster has done this for a classic tool for foster and kinship parents--the life book.

Written for children ages 3-12, Foster's "Shelby and Me" is really two books that come as a set. In the first book Shelby, a cuddly Golden Retriever, tells the story of her life, which includes losing her birth parents, living in foster care, and being adopted. In language a child can understand, Shelby also explains the differences between foster care, reunification, and adoption. Throughout the book suggested questions are given to children to ask their birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, social workers, and others.

Children will love Shelby's sweet personality, laugh at her silly antics, and delight in the book's illustrations and photos. Parents will love Shelby for the way she helps them open up important conversations with children and send the clear and helpful messages every child in foster care should hear. Donna Foster's warm wisdom--drawn from years of experience as a foster and adoptive parent, teacher, and author--shine through on every page.

As they make their way through the story, Shelby encourages children to use the second book in the series to tell their own stories. In this "blank" life book children are invited to record not just the kind of information captured in traditional life books, but also to explore how they feel about fitting into a new family, missing friends, and much more. Shelby and the other animals from the first book are a kind and reassuring presence throughout.

"Shelby and Me" is a great tool that will help adults and children build a trusting relationship by exploring memories, hopes, and dreams together. Consider adding it to your toolbox.

To purchase "Shelby and Me," ($23.95 plus shipping and handling) contact Donna Foster ([email protected]).

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~