A New Special Friend

Written by Tamar Burris
Illustrated by Mousam Banerjee
28 pages  •  Published 2020 (Library and Archives Canada)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Little Fox is used to his parents being divorced. But now his Dad has a special friend. Will Dad still want to be with him? And will Mom be upset? Soon Little Fox discovers that it is a-okay for Donna to be his friend, too! Journey with Little Fox as he experiences meeting his Dad’s new partner, and help your own little one know that their feelings are valid and it is a-okay for them, too, to let a new adult into their own lives.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This book is really lovely for a parent to read to their child when their ex-partner starts dating someone new. Parents who are about to introduce their children to a new partner or who have recently introduced someone new may also find this book helpful. It reassures children that it is okay for them to like the new partner and have fun with them and that this isn’t a betrayal to their other parent (a concern many children have). It also normalizes complicated feelings that children often have when their parents start dating new partners, and it provides hope that the relationship will become a positive one for them too.
Evidence-Based Practices: Emotional Literacy, Psychoeducation
Tone: Warm, reassuring
Story Quality: This story is very sweet, and it delicately addresses a topic that is initially confusing and painful for many children. It’s hopeful and uplifting without invalidating the complex feelings kids often have when their parents start dating new partners.
Illustrations: Cozy, richly-colored illustrations.
Representation: Little Fox is, of course, a fox, and he uses he/him pronouns. He has a mother fox and father fox who are divorced. The foxes live in a human world and enjoy doing human activities (e.g., swinging on a tire swing, going to the beach). Little Fox’s dad lives in a house in a rural area surrounded by trees and a creek. Little Fox’s dad has a new partner named Donna who is a female fox.
Psychological Practices: This book normalizes feelings and worries that children often have when one of their parents starts dating someone new after a divorce, and it reassures kids that it is okay to like their parents’ new partner. Little Fox shares that he is angry when he first learns about his dad’s new “special friend” Donna because he doesn’t want to share his dad with anyone else. As he spends more time with Donna, he starts to notice things he likes about her. He shares that at first seeing her gives him a strange feeling in his stomach “like butterflies flying around and around,” but he also thinks she is funny and kind. Soon he really likes Donna, but this comes with its own complication– “Liking Donna made me feel a little sad…If I liked Donna, what would happen to Mom?” He eventually works up the courage to tell his mom his “secret” (that he likes Donna), and she responds that “I am lucky to have another special grown-up in my life. She said we are all one big team. A team that loves Little Fox.” Little Fox then shares about all of the fun things he does with Donna. The story ends with Little Fox reminding kids that they are lucky to have a new “special friend” too and that it is okay if it takes some time before they like this new person.
Concerns: None.

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