Lucy's Family Tree

Lucy's Family Tree

3.0 1
by Karen Halvorsen Schreck, Stephen Gassler

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When Lucy comes home from school with a family tree assignment, she asks her parents to write her a note to excuse her from the task. Lucy's adoption from Mexico makes her feel as though her family is too "different," but her parents gently and wisely challenge Lucy to think some more about it and to find three families that are the "same."

As Lucy ponders

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When Lucy comes home from school with a family tree assignment, she asks her parents to write her a note to excuse her from the task. Lucy's adoption from Mexico makes her feel as though her family is too "different," but her parents gently and wisely challenge Lucy to think some more about it and to find three families that are the "same."

As Lucy ponders her list of school and family friends who are "normal," she comes to realize that there are many different kinds of families. Her best friend Lucinda has a stay-at-home dad and a working mom. The twins next door look alike and their family matches perfectly, but she discovers that they feel different in their neighborhood because they are Jewish. Her friend Robert has two "moms" who both cheer him on at soccer games, and the parent who attends all of Dora's and Seth's school events is their stepfather. Although her friends the Malones certainly look like an "all-American family," Lucy knows they've suffered a loss that doesn't always show on the outside.

Lucy wins her bet with her parents in a surprising way and ends up creating a family tree that celebrates both her past and present. This is a wonderful book for exploring family diversity and what constitutes a family. Two pages at the back of the book offer further suggestions for parents and teachers.

Author Biography: Karen Halvorsen Schreck received her Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the recipient of an American Fiction Award, a Pushcart Prize in Fiction, and an Illinois State Arts Council Grant. She lives with her husband and daughter in Oak Park, Illinois. Illustrator Stephen Gassler is agraduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and lives in Hazlet, New Jersey.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Children's Adoption Network
This would be a good book for a teacher who just doesn't understand that many families no longer fit the old mold!
Children's Literature
Lucy's worries about being different crystallize when everyone in her class is given an assignment to make a family tree. Lucy was adopted from Mexico and doesn't look anything like her mom and dad. Mom and Dad try to reassure Lucy that many families are different. They even challenge her to make up a list of three families who are the same. As Lucy does her research, she slowly begins to realize that her parents are correct. There are many ways in which families are different. While the story sometimes strains to be inclusive of all types of families, the point is made that society should respect the differences and that kids should be helped to feel comfortable with their backgrounds. There is an ambiguity about Lucy's age in the book, which reflects life. Many adolescents appear grown up at one minute and childlike the next, but this can be somewhat problematic in a fictional character. A section titled "Rethinking a Family Tree Project" gives suggestions for alternative projects offering new approaches to such assignments. This book would be most welcome in the classroom or school library. 2001, Tilbury House, $16.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This picture book about an adopted schoolgirl's struggles with her feelings when assigned to construct a family tree lacks any freshness, vitality, or insight to merit readers' attention. Upset that she doesn't look like her parents, Lucy accepts their challenge to come up with three typical families and gains a sense of self. The illustrations merely re-create the words with no flare of their own. There are many excellent books that emphasize the issues of adoption and family diversity far better than this one. The last two pages deliver a timely message to educators about the appropriateness of family-related assignments in today's world of diverse lifestyles and offer some alternatives to the standard "make a family tree" project. A well-stocked library will provide even the youngest children with books like Holly Keller's Horace (Greenwillow, 1991) and Keiko Kasza's A Mother for Choco (Putnam, 1992), while middle readers appreciate the diversity of Ina Friedman's How My Parents Learned to Eat (Houghton, 1984), and a vast variety of nonfiction and topical novels await older patrons.-Thomas Pitchford, Rosenthal Elementary, Alexandria, LA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

Tilbury House Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.20(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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Lucy's Family Tree 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lucy's Family Tree is an excellent book for mid to older primary age children (8 - 11 year olds)who feel 'different' for any reason. It is unique to find a picture book that speaks at an emotional level to older children. Lucy is adopted and through a homework assignment she learns about the wonderful breadth of what 'family' can be. Specific activities are included at the end of the book that provide concrete ideas to support children who are adopted as well as children who feel their family is somehow different from everyone elses. This book addresses topics such as culture, ethnicity, and all sorts of nontraditional families. I believe this book is not only a tender story but is an educational experience as well. It would be useful for child therapists, children in adoptive and nontraditional families, and as a book read aloud in the classroom (because of the student discussions that will naturally emerge). Lucy's Family tree has a lot to teach us, and it reminds us how all children desire to simply be loved and belong. Halvorsen Schreck's story does just this.