Billy Says... Series: Six therapeutic storybooks to help children on their journey through fostering or adoption ISBN: 9781849056670
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015
This set of six short booklets that cover the whole gamut from a child who is being damaged from neglect and violence to fostering and ultimately to adoption will be useful in any number of circumstances. Book 1, 'It's Not Your Fault, introduces Kirsty and her two small brothers, all of whom live in a house where their mum neglects them and their stepdad is violent. She is often hungry and worried and blames herself for her problems. Kirsty's doll, Billy, is magical, and one day when Kirsty is crying, he begins to talk to her, to tell her that the situation is not her fault and that it is up to grown-ups to look after children. He also explains about social workers and convinces Kirsty that she has many positive qualities. 'Children can't fix grown ups' problems, only grown ups can.' Book 2, 'You Should Be Taken Care Of'', finds Kirsty on the brink of being taken into care. She is really frightened and would rather stay with her mum. Billy is reassuring and explains that she will be looked after properly by foster parents and that all her questions about her brothers will be answered. The final page has her looking apprehensively at the opening door and holding tightly to Billy's hand. Book 3, 'Foster Carers Can Help', finds Kirsty at her new foster carers' home, and it is her first night there. She can't sleep, so she and Billy have a conversation about what is happening to her. She has been told by her social worker, Nicky, that she will be able to see her brothers and her mum once a week, but that it may take a little time to sort out exactly what will happen. Sara and George, her foster carers, seem kind, and she is willing to give them a chance. She and Billy fall asleep together. Book 4, 'What You Think Matters', has Billy and Kirsty talking about the numerous meetings that have to take place between the social workers, her mum (and her dad if they can find him), and she learns that her own views will be taken into consideration. They also talk about Kirsty's meeting with her mum and brothers at a contact centre, and that she found this strange. She asks for an explanation of what a 'court' does and learns that if her parents and the social workers can't agree over what is best for Kirsty and her brothers it will then be down to wise people at the court who will make the decision. This is probably the most complex of the booklets, but the explanations are clear. Book 5, 'Waiting Can Be Hard', has Kirsty and Billy in the garden. She has just had a difficult session with Nicky, who has told her that she will be found a new family and that this means she will be leaving Sara and George, whom she has learned to like. She is also still wanting to go home to mum, and while she understands that the social workers are doing their best for her, it makes her tummy ache when she thinks of another major change in her life. She and Nicky have made a memory book with lots of pictures of her life before all the upset, and she is pleased about that. But the move to the new family seems to be taking a long time, and Billy explains that they must the sure the family is right for her. In Book 6, 'Living as a New Family Takes Practice', Kirsty has her new family, and they are lovely, understanding people who are good at answering all her questions. She must learn again how to live in a family, and because her old family was so difficult, this will not be easy. She knows that she will never forget her mum, and as she will see her brothers every year, they will have a continuing relationship. She will also see Sara and George occasionally, and she and Billy agree that he should go back with them so that he can help other children. They are sad to be parted but know they will always remember each other. There is much to recommend these stories. Full of bright, effective illustrations and published on thick, shiny laminated pages, they should withstand good use even though they are pamphlets. There are lots of funny little characters interwoven as well, which children will enjoy, but basically, they tell us one child's experience of thinking through for herself all the things that are happening to her and learning acceptance. Available as a pack from Amazon, from good book shops, and from the publisher, www.jkp.com.