The Adventures of Squirky the Alien

A Children's Book Series on Adoption

Review & Reflections – The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairytale by Grace Lin

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redthreadWe’ve been talking to C about adoption these past few months. I’d initially imagined this long, serious sit-down session where we’d tell him the “big” stuff, but given his current attention span, it has been more like “little reveals” along the way.

At first, I thought he’d hadn’t even got it, because a few months ago, while reading him Squirky books, I reiterated to him that Squirky was adopted, just like he was adopted.

“A doctor? I don’t want to be a doctor. I want to be a fireman,” he said.

The next time we brought it up, we talked about how there were many people we knew who were adopted, like Yeye (grandpa), Squirky, Kungfu Panda (who makes him giggle) and Superman (favourite superhero).

“But are YOU adoctored (how he prounounces adopted)?” he asked my husband. And when my husband shook his head, C dismissed the whole thing. “Then I don’t want to be adoctored.”

But it was in reading The Red Thread that made me realise he’s probably getting this much more than we’d ever realised.

Here’s the synopsis of the book taken from Amazon:
A king and queen should be full of joy and contentment, but they both feel a strange pain that worsens every day. Then a peddler’s magic spectacles reveal a red thread pulling at each of their hearts. The king and queen know they must follow the thread.

To be frank, I didn’t think he’d take well to the book because he typically picks out books on trucks and monsters. I borrowed it because it said “ADOPTION fairytale” and I’ll take whatever adoption literature I can get from the public library. He stayed completely silent the first time I read it.

At the end, he asked, “Why is the baby holding red thread?”

I explained to him that the baby girl was meant to be adopted by the King and Queen and be their daughter.

And then he said rather emphatically, “Hey, I’m not a princess! I’m a boy!”

I was pretty stunned how he’d immediately been able to identify himself within that story. And this was confirmed later that night, when he asked if he could wear my hair rubber-band on his wrist “just like the red thread”. He also requested that I buy a ball of red thread to “do craft” based on this book.

I had a few issues with the book in terms of representation, especially how “China” is presented as a dirty village where people are dressed in rags. But there’s something about Lin’s storytelling here which kids connect with instantly, as seen by the Amazon reviews.

Overall, I’m glad that this book has opened up more opportunities to discuss adoption with C, and hopefully more in his own terms.

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