________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 29 . . . . April 1, 2011


Where's Home?

Gabrielle Israelievitch. Illustrated by Juliana Neufeld.
Gainsville, FL: Triad Publishing (orders@triadpublishing.com), 2011.
63 pp., pbk., $15.95.
ISBN 978-0-937404-72-0.

Subject Headings:
Foster home care-Fiction.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Linda Ludke.

**1/2 /4



Every time Ma and Pa started to fight, all the kittens scurried for cover under the torn-up sofa. Huddled together and hearts racing, they cringed at the racket.

Once, when Littleprints dared to peek out, he saw blood! (You have to admit, seeing blood is pretty scary.)

The kittens never knew what to expect.

One morning when Ma and Pa were fighting again, Ma let out a piercing yowl. After some snarling and hissing from Pa, a door slammed.

In the silence that followed, the kittens cautiously crept out from under the sofa. One by one they climbed to the wide window sill. By the time the last one peered out, he only caught a glimpse of the black tip of Ma's tail as she dashed away from the house. Yes, she left, just like that, without a word can you imagine?

Littleprints is a kitten born into the volatile Bobcat family. The large litter "snarled and bounced and clawed and bit at each other for what seemed like no reasons at all." Ma and Pa Bobcat are violent and neglectful, and the kittens suffer. The mice who live nearby are aware of the abuse and write a letter to the Humane Society which prompts a visit from a social worker. Mr. Ted E. Bear assesses the situation and removes the kittens for their own safety.

internal art      The frightened kittens are sent to different foster homes, and each deals with the trauma in different ways. While Littleprints retreats inward and curls up inside a box, his sibling, Bucky, claws and lashes out with anger. Littleprints is moved through a succession of foster families until being matched with Mr. and Mrs. Cool Cat. The calm and loving home life enables Littleprints to flourish. He remembers his past and wonders about his parents and siblings, but he looks forward to his future.

      Gabrielle Israelievitch's work as a child psychologist lends authenticity to text. The fears and uncertainties faced by children who experience violence and neglect are poignantly conveyed through the animal characters. Emotions are described in an easily identifiable manner: "Often Littleprints did not have a nice feeling inside. Sometimes he curled up into a ball and rocked back and forth."

      Black and white spot illustrations appear throughout giving glimpses into the different settings, from the Bobcat's chaotic home with kittens scratching broken furniture, to the Cools sharing plates of sweetfish pie at the dinner table.

      As with Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence (Annick Press, 2009), Where's Home? encourages discussion between young readers and supportive adults and is a good choice for bibliotherapy collections.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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