Billy Had To Move
Theresa Ann Fraser, CYW, B.A.
Loving Healing Press (2009)
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views (3/09):
“Billy Had To Move” by Theresa Ann Fraser is the story of seven-year-old Billy who lives with his grandmother because his mother can’t care for him and now cannot be found. When his grandmother dies, Billy is heartbroken, and there is no one to care for him. Mr. Murphy, the social worker from Child Protection Services, places him in a foster home. Even though Billy likes his foster family, he misses his cat and his grandma and lots of things from his old life. All the sadness and anxiety are causing him to have stomachaches and headaches. Will Billy be able to become a happy child again?
It’s a pretty short book, twenty-five pages including several full-page pictures, but it does give some insight into what it might be like to be a foster child. It also lets kids know what play therapy is. When Mr. Murphy the social worker first introduces Billy to Mrs. Woods, the “feelings doctor,” Billy is afraid that he is going to get a shot. He comes to realize that the play therapist is very nice and that she has all kinds of neat things to play with in her office. When Billy left Mrs. Woods’ office he felt a lot better and more relaxed. He even thought that the play therapist might be able to help him get rid of his sick feelings.
I think this book would be useful to foster kids, so they don’t feel so alone and so they know there are people like social workers and foster parents and play therapists who want to help them. This book would also help other kids to understand the hard things that foster children have to endure.
Note from Mother: The preceding review was written by my eleven-year-old son. As a mother, I wanted to add a few additional comments about the book. “Billy Had To Move” is a very thoughtfully-written book that has an uplifting message for children in sad situations. I enjoyed how the author was able to share the genuinely child-like thoughts that were zipping through Billy’s mind. When the social worker pulled Billy out of class to tell him something “really sad,” Billy wonders if he is in trouble because “you never knew what grown ups would think is wrong.” He looks at the social workers shoes, wonders when he learned to tie his shoes, and compares them to the shiny red shoes of his previous social worker. The book is valuable in reminding adults that a child’s response and questions to a death or a move may be very different from that of an adult.
I also read “Billy Had To Move” to my four- and seven-year-old sons. They thought that Billy had a sad life but were happy at the end of the book because they thought Billy would get better. I suspect they would have been even more attentive to the book had there been a few more illustrations.
Reviewed by Madeline McElroy (age 8) for Reader Views (4/09):
This is a story about a boy named Billy. Billy was sad because his Nana had died. Billy had to live in a foster home now because they couldn’t find his mother. Billy was worried who would take care of his cat. He had been sad for many days.
I thought this book was very sad but had a happy ending for Billy. This book made me feel kind of weird because I didn’t know that kids had to live with strangers. I feel lucky to have a caring family. I learned about how there are people to help take care of kids who don’t have parents to take care of them. I found out about lots of people like Social Workers and Therapists who can try to help you when you are sad, angry, scared or confused. I think kids like Billy should read this book because it would show them what to do if they are sad.
Note from mother: I had a hard time reading this book with my children; I was choking back many tears throughout the story. They were both very interested and had a lot of questions and compassion for Billy. I think if a book that to us was “fictional” had such an impact, surely it would be an outstanding tool for a child experiencing these feelings. It seems to me it would really open-up a dialogue at the least. I think “Billy Had To Move” by Theresa Ann Fraser would be a wonderful book for any library and that all school-age children would benefit from reading, either identifying with Billy or by presenting a way of life they may not have known about before. We certainly share a lot of different things about society with our children, but this really illustrated how hard life can be for such a young person. My only critique would be to add more artwork to break-up some of the very text intensive pages. Perhaps editing out some of the text might be helpful as well depending on the target age. We broke the book up over three days because it was such a “heavy” subject.