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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Oliver is adopted. Usually he doesn’t mind the idea of being adopted. One day, when he falls from the tree he was climbing, his adopted father scolds Oliver and sends him inside. That makes Oliver angry. He doesn’t think his adopted parents understand him. He thinks that if he were with his birth parents he would be allowed to do whatever he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to do it. And life with his birth parents would be so grand. When things don’t go our way, don’t we always think the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence?
After reasoning with himself for a while, and destroying his pillow in the process, Oliver calms down. His birth parents, he recalls, just weren’t ready to be parents and that’s why Oliver was adopted. He goes in search of needle and thread to mend his torn pillow. His mother calls him to join them in the kitchen for fresh cookies and the joy of licking the batter bowl clean. A talk with his parents makes Oliver realize that even they, when children, wished they had other parents, especially when their parents made them angry.
Lois Wickstrom’s illustrated story about an adopted lizard-like creature, Oliver: A Story About Adoption, is a clever way of pointing out to young readers that we do sometimes think irrationally when we’re angry, and, as children, we might frequently be angry at our parents for the restrictions they impose. But the biggest lesson in this story is that, whether being an adopted child or living with your birth parents, if you have love, you have all that you really need. A family is only a family when all the members love and respect one another. Color illustrations would definitely improve the attractiveness of this story, but it's a powerful story, nevertheless.