April 25, 2012
By Claire Masurel
No Author Site
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
2-4 Preschool Primary Candlewick 40 pp.
978-0763619848 Paperback $6.99
The word that most came to mind as I was reading Claire Masurel's Two Homes was "comforting". Regardless of the circumstances, whether friendly or hostile, divorce is a life altering experience for a child, one that cannot be soothed away with trite, authorial reassurances. Given this, Masurel makes a nice choice in having Alex, the protagonist of Two Homes, address the reader directly as one who's arrived on the other side of divorce and survived with both relationships intact. The narrative's dual structure helps reinforce the strength of his relationships to each parent. Each home balances the other - "I have two rooms. My room at Daddy's. My room at Mommy's." Both are shown as being equally important to Alex, while the illustrations picture Alex being equally happy in both.
The list of things Alex has two of - favorite chairs, toothbrushes, front doors etc. - are comforting in their everyday-ness, making it clear that, though Alex has two homes, both are very stable. Kady MacDonald Denton's illustrations add to that sense of well-being. Both parents are portrayed as warm and engaged, while Alex is never pictured as being upset, confused or missing the parent that isn't there. In fact, he seems like a very well-adjusted kid with artwork of both parents up in both homes. The story is tremendously reassuring. It feels like a kid addressing another kid, until the end when both parents in, one voice, tell Alex that they love him wherever he is. A simple, satisfying message in an honest, lovely book - the best on divorce that I've come across for this age group.