Reviewed by Katelyn Campbell
Review Source: Independent
Book Author: Vera B. Williams
Home at Last shares the story of a small child, Lester, struggling to adjust during his transition from foster care into a new home with his two adopted fathers. Although Lester is excited to join his new family and their dog from the start of the story, after arriving at home, he struggles to sleep at night due to fears of abandonment while sleeping alone for the first time.
While Williams and Raschka make a point to center Home at Last around Lester’s experience as an adopted child, they are also careful to highlight both the strength and struggles of same sex parenthood. Like many new parents, Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich are overwhelmed as they figure out how to navigate Lester’s fears while maintaining structure within the family and massaging their own worries about how being a same sex couple affects Lester’s opinion of them. All the while, they work together to find ways to adapt their own behaviors to be more sensitive to Lester’s fears.
Home at Last is a heavy read, maybe better suited for a slightly older audience than most sources suggest. It will require plenty of conversation about the origins of Lester’s fears of abandonment, as well as the insecurities his two new fathers have about being gay parents. Although these conversations might not come as easily to families who have not adopted and are not same sex couples, Home at Last is regardless a useful tool for normalizing stories and images of nontraditional families.
Home at Last by Vera B. Williams
Illustrator: Chris Raschka
Published by HarperCollins on September 13th 2016
Reading Level: Grades 1-2, Grade K
Review Source: Independent
Publisher's Synopsis: A poignant, timely, and universal picture book about fear, adoption, family, and the joy of fatherhood, written by beloved and award-winning author Vera B. Williams and illustrated by the author in collaboration with two-time Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka.
After Lester is adopted by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, he develops a big problem—he can't fall asleep. Night after night he creeps into his parents' room and attempts to crawl in between his two daddies, confident that if he's with them and their dog, Wincka, nothing bad will happen to him ever again. But every night, Lester's new dads walk him back to his own room, hoping that eventually Lester will get used to the new house and his new family and feel as though he belongs. They buy him a bike and take him for ice cream. They make cocoa and introduce him to his cousins. But no matter how happy Lester seems during the day, he still gets scared and worried at night! It's the sweet dog Wincka who finally solves the problem when she climbs into Lester's bed and promptly falls asleep, serving as both his pillow and his protector. Lester feels home at last.
Vera B. Williams died on October 16, 2015, while still working on this book with her dear friend and fellow artist Chris Raschka. Chris Raschka's astonishing and glorious full-color paintings are based on sketches by Vera B. Williams and honor both her spirit and her intent. Home at Last is a universal, timely, and timeless book about the right of all children to belong someplace safe.