A Is for Always has as its core the love and sense of belonging that adoptive family members have for each other. Thoughtful rhymes make the lines memorable:
"A is for Always. With your hand in mine,
Adoption's a gift that will last for all time."
With this opening letter, illustrator Leonie Little Lex shows a kangaroo taking the hand of a koala bear next to a path winding through scenery alive with flowers and butterflies. The blues, purples, and gold of the sky suggest a storm that has passed.
Throughout the book, the choice of animals of different species united as family members reinforce a theme of common ground discovered amid differences. They also reflect the worldwide nature of adoption. "J is for the Jet plane, boat, or car" that brought the family together; "V is for Varied" and shows us an elephant, a panda, a giraffe and others pointing out to each other their origins on a map and a globe in a classroom setting.
One of the advantages of the alphabet format is that the book can smoothly travel from cosmic to cozy. While G is for Galaxy: "Stars were aligned to make sure you were the child we would find;" N is for Nest: "A snug place for you. Your mom or your dad will nuzzle you, too." The Galaxy pages bring us a bear and a young rabbit gazing up at a myriad of stars together while the lake below them reflects the starry splendor. The Nest image is pure cuddle: Two squirrels create a furry circle to protect their adopted bluebirds.
Besides celebrating joys, the book also frames some of the more challenging aspects of adoption, such as:
"W is for Wonder, a word to describe
birth family questions you don't need to hide."
The book touches on handling inevitable upsets, the knitting together of present and past, and appreciating inherited traits like curly or straight hair.
When extended family comes into the picture, we reach the height of the book's charming humor, with adorably bespectacled chickens clucking over the birthday mouse:
You can imagine the delight and reassurance that a three-to-six year old would find in this book. But its perceptive, funny, and tender pages have a broad appeal that caregivers will enjoy just as much.