Thursday, August 13, 2009
Billy Had to Move by Theresa Ann Fraser
Billy Had to Move by Theresa Ann Fraser (Rated: C)
Billy Had to Move is not your typical children’s story because it is written from the perspective of a boy who has suffered great loss, and who experiences the procedure of foster care placement and therapy.
It is the story of Billy, who went to live with his Nana (grandmother) when his mother could no longer take care of him. At the age of 7 his grandmother dies, his mother has disappeared, and he is placed in foster care with a kind family. As time passes and he begins to adjust, there is always the question of whether the Child Protection Services will find his mother and he will possibly have to move back with her. Billy then begins therapy and the story ends on a hopeful note.
As a parent, this book certainly opened my eyes to the realities of foster care and the many complex issues these children face when confronting placement. I reread the story several times, and each time I appreciated the way the author’s knowledge of foster care makes this book a great tool for all those involved in the field of Youth Protection Services. The caregiver’s guide at the end of the book is an excellent addition for the caregiver as it points out the issues dealt in the story and the purpose of the book:
“Using Billy Had to Move to normalize some of your child’s symptoms and experiences is the primary purpose of this book. Billy Had to Move can be used as a tool to introduce foster care or therapy. It can also be used to help children recognize that they are not alone in experiencing various types of loss.”
I read this book with my 8-year-old daughter who, at the end of the story, wanted it to continue so she could know how the play therapy was going to make Billy feel better. I understood that she wanted to be reassured he would feel better. She also pointed out that there were “too many words on the page”. I agree that less paragraphs on one page and more illustrations will make this book more user-friendly for children of this age group, especially since the reader needs time to absorb the deep issues brought up in the story.
Canadian author, Theresa Ann Fraser, has written an important book extremely useful to the foster care child, the caregiver, the therapist and the teacher. As such a book is not common, it is valuable for this field and also in all schools since, unfortunately, the number of cases dealt by the Youth Protection Services has become more common. Kudos to Theresa for her insightful assistance through this fine book!