April 04, 2007

"A Mother for Choco"

"A Mother for Choco" never once mentions adoption, yet manages to make a nice statement about adoptive families.

Choco is a little bird living alone who sets off one day to find a mother. He visits a giraffe, penguin, and walrus, all of whom tell him that they cannot be his mother because they do not look just like him. When he then meets Mrs. Bear, he is sure she could not be his mother. He begins to cry and Mrs. Bear rushes to comfort him.

As she listened to Choco's story, she sighed. "Oh dear. If you
had a mommy, what would she do?"

"Oh, I'm sure she would hold me," sobbed Choco.

"Like this?" asked Mrs. Bear. And she held Choco very
tight.

After more such exchanges, Mrs. Bear suggests that perhaps she could become Choco's mother. When Choco points out that she looks nothing like him, Mrs. Bear laughs that she would look quite silly with yellow feathers, wings, and striped feet. Choco agrees and goes home with Mrs. Bear to meet her other children: an alligator, hippopotamus, and pig. The story ends with Mrs. Bear hugging all her children and Choco happy that "his new mommy looked just the way she did."

Choco's story communicates one of the important messages for adopted children who don't look like other members of their adoptive family (because of transracial/transcultural adoption or just having different coloring or features). I think it is important for children in those situations to be around people who are like them and to have those connections affirmed. They also need to hear that families are not only about shared features, but also about love and commitment.

This book is a nice counterpoint to the ubiquitous "Are You My Mother?" by P.D. Eastman and I think would be great for any kid, adopted or not. It is a parable about the bond between adoptive parents and their children, so there is no explanation of why Choco was living all alone. I did not see anything demeaning toward families of origin in it. The age range is 2-6 years and the pictures are bright and cheerful.

(written & illustrated by Keiko Kasza, Puffin Books, 1992)

3 comments:

BethGo said...

I love, love, LOVE this book.
I actually met the author years ago. Her other books like Wolf's Chicken Soup are really good too although not adoption related.
I love her whimsical style of illustration.

Overwhelmed! said...

We got this book for our son during his first year. I do believe it's become one of his absolute favorites (he's now 2). He frequently asks for "Choco" book at bedtime storytime. He also calls every bird he sees "Choco". :)

Tiffany said...

A friend just gave us this book. I love it! It does such a wonderful job of talking about adoption.

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