By Author / Illustrator
Friends and family
Simon & Schuster Ltd
Paperback / softback
From the award-winning author of THE BUBBLE BOY comes a heart-warming and unforgettable story that follows one boy's search for the perfect family, with surprising and unexpected results.
THINGS MY PERFECT PARENTS MUST HAVE:
1. A mega mansion like the ones footballers live in
2. A garage wall with a basketball hoop
3. No gerbils
4. Holidays to Disneyland
All Sam wants is a family of his own, a home instead of a 'house' and parents he knows will still be there when he wakes up. Because Sam has been in and out of foster care his whole life and he can't imagine ever feeling like he truly belongs. Then his best friend Leah suggests that rather than wait for a family to come to him, he should go out and find one. So begins The Perfect Parent Project ... But Sam may just discover that family has a funny way of finding you.
11 year old Sam is a sensitive and disillusioned foster child who has been in temporary home after home for most of his life. He longs for his 'forever' family; a proper home and not just a house he happens to live in for a while. He longs for a hug from someone who loves him (and a trip to Disneyland and an Xbox - after all he's still a regular 11 year old !)
Sam decides to take matters into his own hands, and with best friend Leah, he sets about advertising for the perfect parents - creating posters and setting up a meeting time to interview any prospective new adoring mums and dads.
The Perfect Parent Project is a fantastic book that grabs you by the heart from the moment you meet Sam in his 'safe' space - a huge alleyway bin. Seeing his wariness and suspicion towards the adults in the story (his foster family, his teachers) exposes the reader to the intense level of emotion and hurt that this young character has already experienced in his short life.
Sam is a believable, fully realised and endearing character, written with such obvious warmth by Foster. There is great attention to detail to show to the reader the different sides of Sam - his friendships, his delightful drama talents and his obvious affection and gentleness with six-year-old Reilly from his current foster family. The deep emotions and serious issues of a child's need to belong and own their own space within a family are beautifully and gently explored.
There is much humour along the way though. Foster creates genuinely funny, touching scenes throughout the book. Sam's drama classes give him a chance to showcase his comic timing and his teasing friendship with Leah has a lovely, fun dynamic.
At times, as a reader, you want to step into the story and take Sam by the shoulders to point out what (or who)he might be overlooking in his increased desperation to find his Perfect Parents. So Stewart Foster's aim to engage the reader is a complete success - at times I was cheering Sam on and at times I had my head in my hands !
I loved The Perfect Parents Project; a story about the importance of belonging and trust and the value of the human connection to others. Love, hugs, home and kindness above all else. The last paragraph was utter perfection. Impossible to read without a huge emotional response. I can't recommend this enough.
352 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Jenny Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+