Whether you’re welcoming a new child into your family, or would just like to discuss families in all their many forms with your child, these picture books are great starting points for talking about adoption. As well as books from abroad, there’s a fair few Indian offerings. Between them, these books talk about ethnic heritage, nature vs nurture and the unconditional quality of a parent’s love.
Whose Lovely Child Can You Be?
Shobha Viswanath & Christine Tappin (Karadi Tales, Rs 175)
Lyrical and literary, this book tells the tale of a young girl’s adoption from multiple perspectives within the family – with inputs from her parents, grandparents, brother, aunt and uncle. While Gulgul is initially worried that she doesn’t belong, reassurance comes from many quarters and the tale ends with Gulgul having to reassure her relatives that she is a part of all of them, too. Easy to read aloud and to relate to, there’s much to be charmed by here.
A Mother for Choco
Keiko Kasza (Puffin, Rs 280)
This was first published in 1992, but has absolutely stood the test of time. Baby bird Choco goes in search of a mother, but he just doesn’t seem to be able to find anyone who looks quite like him. Dialogue-driven, deceptively simple yet wonderfully touching, it’s gratifying that Choco discovers that when it comes to love, it doesn’t matter what you look like.
Elephants Never Forget
Anushka Ravishankar & Christiane Pieper (Tara Books, Rs 200)
One of several books which use animal characters to help explain the concept of adoption, Elephants Never Forget is a beautifully executed picture book. Etchings from Christiane Pieper, loose rhyme from Anushka Ravishankar and typography by Rathna Ramanathan come together to tell the story of a lost elephant who is taken in by a herd of buffalo, and grows up in their midst. The return of the elephant herd leaves the protagonist with a difficult dilemma, touching lightly on a question many adoptive children may face – whether they should reach out to their birth families.
Dragon Loves Penguin
Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury, Rs 199)
This one is heartwarming and nostalgic on multiple levels, and manages to capture the very essence of what it means to be a family. Starting with a young penguin wanting to hear the story of where he and his mother came from, a tale is spun which touches upon the bonds that bind generations together, the strength that can come from being ‘different’, and of course the magic of storytelling. We love the reference to the young penguin being given, “love and time, the greatest gifts of all.” How very true.
The Odd Egg
Emily Gravett (Macmillan, Rs 299)
This is also a tale about a lost egg being taken in, and having surprising contents! A popular fixture in the store over the last few years, this has all of Emily Gravett’s hallmarks: unusual design, beautiful illustration, and a fun twist. Another one to show that looking alike isn’t the most important thing when it comes to family, and that parenthood isn’t just about mothers. Especially great for toddlers.
A Mummy for Owen
Marion Dane Bauer (Simon & Schuster, Rs 250)
Many of these books talk about adoption in the context of babies – what makes this stand out is the fact that Owen the hippo can remember his birth family, and life before he lost them in a flood. While he has happy memories of playing in the river with his mother, when he is separated from her, he finds love in an unexpected place – from a 130-year old tortoise called Mzee. What’s even better is that this is based on a true story.
The Lonely King and Queen
Deepa Balsavar (Tulika Publishing, Rs 120)
When a king and queen start to hear a voice inside their house they can’t work out where the sound is coming from … but they know they want to follow it! Their search leads them to a yellow building, where they find a small baby calling out for Papa and Mamma. Balsavar’s text and illustrations work beautifully together in this little book and the repetitions as the king and queen search high and low make it a great bedtime book. What’s really lovely, though, is the idea of the baby making sure that the right parents hear its voice.
On Our Wish List
As usual, we’re also hankering after more books! Titles currently on order for the store from far flung places include Bringing Asha Home (Uma Krishnaswami, published by Lee & Low), and written by the same author who gave us the wonderfully fun Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, published by Tulika.
Dealing with inter-racial adoptions (but in very different ways), we’re also looking forward to having a closer look at Over the Moon (Karen Katz, published by Macmillan) and Allison (Allen Say, also published by Macmillan). The moving Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born (Jamie Lee Curtis, published by Harper Collins) – guaranteed to make you feel warm inside – is also heading our way.