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The Kissing Hand

by Audrey Penn Child and Family Press; $16.95

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This spring, the flood of tears that Josi produced every time I left for my part-time college job led to my decision not to sign on for another semester. I have a full-time career that supports us without my moonlighting. But I know I'm begging a bigger question: how to handle the fact that she can't stand to be away from me for a single minute. I am the sun in her world-the only parent she has ever known. Children under five, with no sense of time and history, can't always grasp that a parent means it when he or she promises to return. Into this gap comes The Kissing Hand.

This book was recommended by Josi's speech and language therapist. The story hinges on the relationship between a momma and baby raccoon. As in many books for preschoolers, these animals are substitute figures for people, making the truths in the stories easier to accept and discuss. After all, animals are less threatening than adults. Momma Raccoon reassures her child that she will return by kissing his hand and saying, "If you miss me, just look at your hand and you will remember that I love you." This captured my imagination. The next day I asked Josi if she remembered the story. She became distressed, saying "Momma Raccoon has to go away!" She elaborated: "Baby Raccoon has to stay with Lucille and Sherry!" (My roommates, who babysit occasionally.) The animals had served as stand-ins for feelings that Josi had had a hard time expressing up until now. I explained that Lucille and Sherry would be very kind to the little raccoon, and would play games with him. This had a calming effect. The next day I bought this sensitive and touching book. On its first evening at home, three readings were demanded, and I project hundreds more in the future.

Reviewed by Susan Matson

Copyright 2001 Adoptive Families magazine. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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Child Development, Family, Health, and Education Research

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