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Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles

By Darlene Friedman and Roger RothHarperCollins; $17.99; ages 5-9

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Tracing a family tree, sharing a baby picture at show-and-tell. These are common challenges for the adopted child at school, and such simple assignments can stir emotions for a child who has more questions than answers about her birth. Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles (HarperCollins; $17.99; ages 5-9) offers insight for kids and the parents who love them.

When it's Cassidy-Li's turn to be Star of the Week in her kindergarten class, she bakes brownies with sprinkles, and crafts a colorful poster about her family and friends. But when she realizes she doesn't have a photo of her birth family, the six-year-old struggles to make sense of her origins. In the end, with gentle guidance from her parents, Cassidy-Li creates her own way to be a star.

The award-winning husband-and-wife team behind Star of the Week--Darlene Friedman and Roger Roth--drew inspiration from the adoption of their own child, more than 10 years ago. Told in the disarming voice of Cassidy-Li, this story melds the complexities of unknown birthparents, abandonment, and identity, painting a realistic, yet charming, view of adoption that a young child can understand. In one instance, Cassidy-Li is looking at photos of her present, happy life when, suddenly, she misses her Chinese parents. "I think about my birthparents a lot.  Sometimes I miss them. I was born to them. I am a part of them, and they are a part of me. I wonder what they look like. Are they nice? Where do they live? Why couldn't they keep me? Do they miss me like I miss them?"

Reading these lines to my five-year-old, Hannah, also adopted from China, I snuck glances at her face, seeking her reaction. "I like the brownies with sprinkles," she said. "That sounds yummy."

Hannah connected with the chocolate and the beautifully detailed illustrations, depicting a life like hers--down to the jumbled memory box, multicultural friends, and loyal dog. But she turned the page on the book's deeper questions, for now.

Star of the Week is an encouraging book for any adopted child dealing with the mysteries of her life. My daughter is not there yet. But I believe she'll identify with the story when she starts kindergarten this fall--and begins to navigate the path of "being adopted." For now, Cassidy-Li will be waiting in the wings to help my little star find answers of her own.

Reviewed by Stacy Clark, a writer and a mother by birth and adoption. She lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband, two daughters, and their dog.

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