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I Am Living in 2 Homes (I Am Book) Hardcover – August 19, 2014
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From Bleeding Cool:
Growing up, I had several friends who had divorced parents. The majority of them stayed with their mothers and saw their fathers on the weekends or every other week, but it always scared me hearing the stories of what they had to go through. Some friends enjoyed it because their parents would buy them whatever toys they wanted to try and gain the Favorite Parent title, while others were always extremely sad and depressed.
It also scared me at times because it felt like everyone I knew was dealing with divorce, and I thought it would only be a matter of time before my own parents marriage was next. Fortunately that never happened, and I will never know what my friends had to go through growing up, but what I do know is that kids need to be reassured that it s never their fault. They need to hear from their parents that they are loved no matter the living situation, and whose home they re staying at.
Enter I Am Living in 2 Homes, the second book of the I Am series from Stranger Kids. This is the second collaboration between Garcelle Beauvais and Sebastian A. Jones, with illustrations by James C. Webster. Their first book of the I Am series, I Am Mixed, tackled the sensitive subject of being biracial with twins Nia and Jay, who are based on Beauvais own two children. In I Am Living in 2 Homes, Nia and Jay are back, this time helping children understand that there is nothing wrong with living in two different homes, for all families are unique in their own way.
Nia and Jay's mother enjoys nature and living in the countryside, while their father enjoys life in the city and all its charms. The twins get a healthy helping of both worlds, for each parent brings something different to the table in their own environments. At the same time, they have to deal with some tough questions from their peers (You don't live with both your mom and dad?) as well as feelings of confusion and frustration when thinking about the future. One of the main messages is a parent's love is a powerful, reassuring feeling that can comfort children in times of grief.
Webster's delightful style for the characters remains the same, returning to that warm, welcoming fuzzy look and feel. My favorite frogs are back as well, popping up everywhere in the background and doing various activities like rock climbing or watching movies alongside of both Nia and Jay. While the kids are the focus, the settings of both countryside and inner city are vibrant and beautiful, really capturing the attention of the reader every page.
One of the things I really enjoyed with I Am Mixed was at the back of the book there was an interactive section, encouraging parents and children to participate in a discussion about what they just read. I was very happy to see that similar format return for I Am Living in 2 Homes as well, this time with the questions revolving around the subjects of divorce and how that makes the child feel (if they are currently experiencing that situation). Kids are also given the opportunity to draw what they think belongs in both Nia and Jay's playhouses.
Love is love. Family is family.
I couldn't agree more. I Am Living in 2 Homes is the kind of educational tool that should be made available in every classroom and library across the country. Too many children from divorced families have unresolved questions about their current living situations, and parents may not know how to approach the subject of living in two homes with them. If they are kept in the loop and loved unconditionally, children may have a better understanding of what is going on. In the meantime, reading to/with them is the best way to have that warm, comforting connection that every being requires.
I'm a big fan of the I Am series, and can t wait to see what Beauvais, Jones, and Webster have planned next. --Cameron Hatheway - Bleeding Cool
Review by the Divorced Breadwinner Mom
Synopsis: This simple and beautifully illustrated children's book tells of the experiences of young twins who as the title suggests live in two homes (after their parents divorce is implied but not explicitly stated). Written in rhyming verse, the book is split into two parts: the first part at mommy's house where the children enjoy nature and the outdoors, the second part at daddy's house in the city where there is action and adventure. The first part of the story is told by Nia (the girl twin) and includes some tough questions from friends at school. The second part of the story is told by Jay (the boy twin) and includes some of the fears he experiences when lying awake at night. The children have positive experiences in both homes, and the love and support of each parent helps them face the tough questions and fears.
Who Would Benefit? This book is a great fit for divorced moms and dads and their younger kids. The illustrations are colorful and eye-catching, and the writing is clear and simple. The kids are mixed ethnicity, so families of many backgrounds can relate. Parents of young children will find this book a useful way of opening discussions about divorce with their kids. It contains some helpful guidelines for discussion with your children at the end of the story, along with pages to color and a page a child can fill out if he or she is old enough to write (or dictate to mom or dad). The book's messages are uplifting and positive: Key points are that there are all kinds of families, including families with 2 homes, and that the kids are loved by both parents. The kids also adapt to the differences in each home and find the good in both. These messages can be useful reinforcements for young children who often need repeated reassurance.
What I Liked: The first I AM book, I AM MIXED, explores the thoughts and emotions of children of mixed ethnicity. This second book includes the same twins, Nia and Jay, and how they navigate the complexities both child and parent face when dealing with separation and divorce. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is simple enough for young children to follow. I like that the children go to both parents homes as part of the story and that both parents show love and support for their children. I also appreciate that the story calls out the differences in the parents personalities and allows the children to enjoy both homes. The way in which the fears and concerns the kids might face is believable and appropriate. I found the note for parents and the discussion guide to be quite useful; divorced moms and dads will appreciate this way of getting a conversation started if they aren't able to do so comfortably on their own.
What I Didn't Like: There's nothing not to like in the book. It seems most appropriate for children from 2 to 6 years old. Older children may require something with more depth and complexity, and they may see the kids in the story as too young to relate to. A couple of the rhyming verses required re-reading to get the point, but the overall message was clear.
One caution: If the situation in both homes is not amicable, loving and supportive of the children this book might not be suitable. It could raise questions that can't easily be answered, especially for younger kids. It might also highlight differences between the love and support that the children in the book receive from both parents and the reality of some divorce situations, increasing resentment and frustration in kids who don't regularly see one of their parents or where they don't receive love and support from both parents.--Joy Cipoletti, the Divorced Breadwinner Mom
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