HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Lucy’s Family Tree
Author: Karen Halvorsen Schreck
Illustrator: Stephen Gassler III
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, republished in 2006
Related website: www.tilburyhouse.com (publisher)
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Schreck, Karen Halvorsen. Lucy’s Family Tree (published in 2001 by Tilbury House Publishers, 2 Mechanic St., Gardiner, ME 04345). Have you ever done a family tree? Lucy comes home from school with the assignment to make a family tree for class. However, there is a problem because she was an adopted child from Mexico and feels that her family background is too complicated for her to make a family tree because it makes her too “different.” Her parents challenge her to find three families that are “the same.” So Lucy investigates her friends and her parents’ friends. Lucinda Knapp has a stay-at-home father and a bread-winning mother. Benjamin and Natalie’s family is Jewish, which is not typical in that neighborhood. The Keaton children have a step-father. And the Malones are still dealing with the loss of a daughter who was hit by a car.
Can Lucy find a family that is “normal”? And what sort of family tree will she be able to devise? There is much to like about this book. As the parents of two adopted sons, one part Filipino and the other part Japanese, my wife and I have had to deal with some of the same issues raised by this story. It is true that in today’s society families come in all shapes and sizes. It is also true that children simply have no control over what their families might look like. We should certainly strive to be sensitive to their needs. In the back there are a couple of pages on “Rethinking a Family Tree Project” with suggestions to teachers about different approaches in which no child will feel denigrated, denied, or overlooked in any way, along with some further resources on the subject.
(Note: Some parents might want to know that one of Lucy’s friends, Robert, “has two moms’ who both cheer him on at soccer games.” Nothing is said about the details of this arrangement. However, while I understand that two buzzwords in our modern society are “diversity” and “tolerance,” and I have no wish to be judgmental, I personally still have trouble, based on sincerely held Biblical-based convictions, in recommending a book for children which talks about a situation “where two women were raising a child together.”)