A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Honest info on adoption process: it takes a long time, perhaps a year to do screening and paperwork.
Even kids in rough circumstances have people who come forward to help them. Gay family life's portrayed as loving and strong. Family life's composed of small, connected events and moments that bind us together -- eating pancakes, riding bikes, stopping for ice cream. Pets comfort us. Parents who sometimes lose their temper can also strongly love their kids. Adjustment to loss and new circumstances takes the time it takes.
Positive Role Models
The folks portrayed here feel real. The dads are loving, though one has a temper. The boy's happy to have a new home, but still experiences strong fears. Though the going's slow and bumpy, everyone sticks together and tries to work out solutions. The dads are patient and take Lester's feelings and worries into account.
Violence & Scariness
"Lester's first parents had died in a car crash when he was little, and he had lived with his grandma until she became very old and sick." Daddy Albert has a temper, knocks a toy action figure from Lester's hand, and yells at him in frustration, though he immediately softens.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Home at Last is the last book by beloved author-illustrator Vera B. Williams, whose brightly colored Caldecott Honor books (A Chair for My Mother) pioneered progressive themes of inclusion, and who collaborated here with friend and Caldecott winner Chris Raschka (The Hello, Goodbye Window). This story, in which school-age Lester's adopted by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, has clear adoption and LGBT themes, but the feelings will be recognizable to any kid who's felt anxiety. Daddy Albert's loving but has a temper, and Lester, who lost his "first parents" in a car crash then bounced from grandma to an institution, has fears that aren't easily soothed. The book's most appropriate for older kids who can stick with the longer text and handle thornier emotions.
Is It Any Good?
In this sensitive portrait of a loving and recognizably human family facing very real challenges, an older boy's adopted by two dads and has trouble trusting he won't be yanked from his new home. Author Vera Williams excels at joyously inclusive portraits of hardworking families. (Her classic A Chair for My Mother, still immensely popular, celebrated a girl and single mom struggling after a fire.) Chris Raschka illustrates Home at Last with much the same bright splashes of color that characterized William's own art.
What distinguishes Home at Last is the honest detail, the acknowledgement that there are no easy answers or quick fixes. It takes a year for the dads to adopt. Lester's neediness persists, trying the family, and Daddy Albert, who can be loving and supportive, has a fiery temper. But Williams is deft at the touching detail. When the dads make cocoa for Lester in the wee hours, and when Lester playfully rams his head into Daddy Rich's belly, we know these humans are trying their best to forge a family and are lucky to have found each other.
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