Unfortunately, Billy's mother cannot be located. Mr. Murphy, Billy's social worker, places him in the foster home of Amy, Tim, and their baby "Colly." Billy experiences great loss resulting not only from his grandmother's death, but also the loss of the life he knew. Billy's inner journey therefore has also begun and with the help of Ms. Woods, a Play Therapist, there is hope.
Therapists' Acclaim for Billy Had To Move
"This gem of a book gently frames the stages of a child's natural quest to make sense of his story. Fraser has created more than a teaching story: she generously offers a sacred space that compassionately holds and supports the multidimensional realities of our foster children and their birth families, our social workers and foster families, our teachers and child psychotherapists."
--Gisela Schubach De Domenico, PhD, MFT, R-PTS
"Billy Had To Move is a profound story about the complex issues children in foster care often face. Fraser provides important lessons for caregivers. The book gracefully introduces the sandtray and provides insight into how powerful the experience can be when the child has an opportunity to explore their trauma in the sandtray."
--Mark E. Hulbert, MA, LLP
"A wonderful addition to the bibliotherapy field. This is a much-needed book for foster care children to help them in adjusting to a new caregiver and placement. It offers a welcoming view of how children's worries and losses can be understood by a caring Play Therapist, in a warm and inviting setting."
--Athena A. Drewes, PsyD, RPT-S; Director of Clinical Training,
The Astor Home for Children, Poughkeepsie, NY
"In this engaging, warm-hearted story, Billy grieving the loss of his grandmother,
finds a way to heal by expressing his thoughts and feelings in Play Therapy.
--Charles E. Schaefer, PhD, RPT-S
Director Emeritus, The Association for Play Therapy
Learn More About This Book at www.TheresaFraser.com
From the Growing With Love series at Loving Healing Press www.LovingHealing.com
Juvenile Fiction : Family - Orphans & Foster Homes
Read an Excerpt
Billy was seven years old when his grandmother died. Billy was at school when it happened. Mr. Lee, the principal, came to Billy's classroom door and asked Billy to come to the office. The last time that had happened, a social worker was also waiting in Mr. Lee's office. She had asked questions about Billy's mother. After that, Billy went to live with his grandmother.
Though Billy loved his grandmother, he missed his mother because he hadn't seen her for a long, long time. This time when he went to Mr. Lee's office, he hoped maybe the social worker would tell him that his mom was better now and could take care of him. Billy walked into Mr. Lee's office. A man in a suit was sitting down. He had Billy's camp bag beside him. Billy wondered how he'd got it. He knew that Nana had put it on the top shelf of his closet when he got back from camp. It was really hard to reach unless he dragged the step stool from the bathroom into his bedroom. This man looked tall, though. Billy bet that he didn't need a step stool to reach high places.
The man stood up and asked Billy to sit down, which seemed pretty silly to Billy, but he did it anyway. Mr. Lee didn't join the man and Billy. Instead he closed the door and waited in the secretary's office. Billy was really confused. He began to feel scared.
The man said, "Billy, I have to tell you something really sad. Can you listen very carefully?"
"OK, I guess," Billy said, as he fidgeted on the chair. He was pretty sure he wasn't in trouble, but you never knew what grown ups would think is wrong. Billy looked at the man's shoes; they weren't very shiny. The last social worker had shiny red shoes and she smelled nice. This man smelled OK, but it was different. This man's shoes had laces, too. Billy didn't know how to tie his shoes yet, and he wanted to ask the man how old he'd been when he learned how, but he thought he'd better wait until the serious talk was over. Maybe he was going back to camp.
The man said, "Billy, my name is Mr. Mike Murphy, and I'm a social worker. I brought your clothes with me because there has been a problem at home." Mr. Murphy then asked, "Billy, do you know that your Nana is getting older?"
Billy said, "Yes, we just had lots of fun at her birthday party a few weeks ago."
Mr. Murphy then said, "Billy, your grandmother died this morning." After that, Billy had trouble hearing anything else that Mr. Murphy said. He put his head down and started to cry. Nana's bird Sophie had died last year, and she never came back, so Billy knew that dying meant-Nana wasn't ever coming back either. Mr. Lee came into the office and put his hand on Billy's shoulder, "I'm so sorry, Billy," he said. Mr. Murphy told Mr. Lee that Billy would be leaving school and would be away for a few days at least until after the funeral.
Billy didn't know what a funeral was but he figured he would ask about that later. Right now his head hurt and he felt like throwing up. He felt sad and scared and angry all at the same time. He also wondered who was going to feed his cat, Miffy.
When it was time to go, his feet followed Mr. Murphy but Billy couldn't stop crying and thinking about his Nana. Who is going to take care of me now?
Mr. Murphy drove him to a neighborhood that he didn't know and stopped in front of a big house with a broad porch. There were bikes in a bike rack and pretty red flowers in the front garden.
They walked up the front steps, and Mr. Murphy knocked on the screen door. A smiling lady came to the door with a baby on her hip. She opened the screen door and invited them in.
Billy didn't know why they were there, but Mr. Murphy put Billy's camp bag on the floor at the bottom of the stairs and asked Billy to follow him to the kitchen at the back of the house. The smiling lady put the baby in a high chair in the kitchen and sprinkled some goldfish crackers on the baby's tray. The baby picked some up and offered them to Billy. Then she giggled and stuffed them into her mouth. The lady wore a pretty striped apron with flowers all over it.
Billy didn't know where to look or stand. He wished someone would tell him why they were there. The nice lady asked, "Billy, would you like some milk or a snack?" Billy didn't want to eat because he still felt sick. He really just wanted to go home to his own bed where Miffy was probably sleeping beside his teddy bear. He shook his head "no".
Mr. Murphy explained to the smiling lady that Billy's grandmother had died and they were having trouble locating his mother. Billy kept his head down, but he could feel the smiling lady looking at him. He wished that everyone would just stop talking.
Mr. Murphy called the lady "Amy" and asked her if she would be able to take Billy to the doctor later in the day so an Intake Medical could be done. She nodded and Billy thought seeing the doctor might be a good idea because he still felt sick.
Mr. Murphy asked, "Billy, do you have any questions?" Billy did, but he didn't want to talk. He started to cry, and he asked, "Mr. Mike, when are we going to leave because I really needed to go see Miffy. He is going to miss me."
Amy and Mr. Murphy looked at each other before sitting down at the table in front of Billy. Mr. Murphy said, "Billy, your Nana has died. Because there is no big person at home to look after you, you will be staying with Amy and her husband and the baby in this foster home until another social worker, a judge, or I can find the best place for you to live. In a few days, there will be a funeral for your grandmother, so I will be back to see you. If you want, I will take you to the funeral."
Billy asked in a very soft voice, "But who will take care of Miffy if I'm not at home?" Mr. Murphy smiled and said, "Your next door neighbor Mr. Potani has offered to feed and love Miffy."
Billy smiled because Mr. Potani took good care of his own cat, Mr. Sniffles, so he knew Miffy would be OK there. He still didn't know what a funeral was, and he wondered who would tell his piano teacher that he couldn't go to his lesson later that day.
Mr. Murphy stood up and said, "Amy, there are some dress clothes in the bag as well as pajamas. If Billy needs anything else, just get it for him so he feels comfortable here." Mr. Murphy forgot to bring Billy's toothbrush, but Amy said that she always had extras.
He rubbed Billy's head and said, "Billy, I will be back to see you in a few days." Billy tried not to, but he began to cry harder.
The baby started to squeal and clap, which made Billy stop crying. Amy said, "Billy, can you watch the baby for a moment while I put the laundry in the dryer?" Billy nodded. "What's the baby's name?" he asked.
"'Colly' is what we call her, but her full name is Colleen Patricia," said Amy as she moved the wet clothes.
Colly laughed when she heard her name. Amy came back and picked up Colly. She asked Billy to follow her upstairs so she could show him where he would sleep. Colly was going to have her nap so she was going upstairs too. Amy lay the baby down in her crib with her bottle and turned on her mobile for her.
Billy's room had bunk beds and was painted blue. There were stars and rocket ships on the ceiling. Amy put the camp bag on the dresser and started to put Billy's clothes away. Mr. Murphy had thought to pack his Sunday clothes and even a bathing suit. At the very bottom of the bag was Billy's stuffed bear. She was missing an eye, but she had been a special toy since Billy was a little boy and lived with his mother. Mr. Murphy had seemed to know what Billy would want so he would feel comfortable at this different house. Billy put the stuffed bear on the lower bunk bed. This is where he decided he would sleep too.
Amy hung up his suit and asked, "Billy, have you ever been to a funeral before?" Billy shook his head. Amy explained what happened at a funeral.
After that, Billy and Amy talked about Billy's Nana and Billy's life with her.
He attended the funeral, but afterward, he continued to live with Amy because Mr. Murphy couldn't find his mother, and there were no other family members that Billy knew of. Christmas and birthday parties had always been just him, his mom and Nana.
Amy was nice and her husband Tim was even nicer. Baby Colly got bigger and always had a smile on her face and would now run to hug Billy when he got home from school. She always had a nice baby powder smell, except when she had pooped in her pants.
Billy started to grow taller, and it was almost the end of grade two. Mr. Murphy still visited from time to time to see how Billy was doing. Still no one knew where his mom was.
Mr. Murphy had to tell Billy that he didn't know how long he would live with Amy and Tim. Billy still had headaches and tummy aches when he thought of his Nana. Sometimes he felt angry with her that she had died and left him alone. Sometimes he would think that maybe his mom was dead too and then his throat would begin to hurt. He would have trouble breathing, and he would feel like his feet were stuck where he was standing.
He always thought of Nana when he was lying in his bed at night and in the morning. Sometimes he would lie in bed and think, just before he woke up, that his Nana was making his breakfast for him and that he would wake up in his old bed, in his old room.
He overheard Amy tell Tim once that she was worried that Billy was suffering from anxiety. Billy didn't know what that was exactly, but he knew that he felt lots of confusing things sometimes.
He also woke up a lot at night. He would dream that his-Nana was making cereal for him just like she did the morning he last saw her. He could almost smell her clothes like he did every time she gave him a big hug and told him that he should "have a great learning day."
One day at the beginning of August, Billy was riding his bike on the front sidewalk. He saw Mr. Murphy get out of his car and Billy noticed that he had brought another social worker with him. She had shiny red shoes like his first social worker, but this one had a big smile and long black hair. Billy didn't want to look right at her as he could feel his tummy beginning to hurt and his head ache.
Billy wondered is this the day that Mr. Murphy will tell me that he found my mom? That would be great and sad all at the same time because he was starting to feel OK about living with Amy and Tim. They showed him that they really cared about him by always doing what they promised to.
They had fun together wherever they went. They took him to the park and even went to his school for the Parent Open House. He loved baby Colleen Patricia too.
Mr. Murphy said, "Billy, this is my friend, Mrs. Woods. She is a Child and Play Therapist, kind of like a 'feelings doctor' who helps kids feel better after someone close to them has died." Billy thought that meant she was going to give him a needle, so he tried to make sure he didn't stand too close to her.
Amy came out of the house and invited everyone in for some iced tea. Billy just wanted to stay on his bike, but when Amy told him that there was some lemonade just for him, he followed the adults in. Billy loved lemonade, especially the pink kind. Amy knew just what kind he liked.
The shiny-shoe-lady took her shoes off and went into the kitchen. She had a funny purse in the shape of a watering can. Billy wondered what was in it; maybe she brought needles on home visits, too, he thought. Amy also noticed her purse and asked her where she'd found it. Mrs. Woods said, "I found it a long time ago, and I carry it to remind myself that sometimes therapy can help children grow."
Mr. Murphy and Amy went out to the back yard and Billy tried to drink his lemonade quickly so he could get back outside. The lady spoke first.
"Boy, you must be thirsty," she said.
"Uh huh," he responded.
"I get thirsty too when I am riding my bike."
Billy couldn't resist and asked her what kind of bike she had. "A red one," she told him, "because red is my favorite color." Billy continued to drink without looking at her. Mrs. Woods asked him if he had ever heard of a play therapist before.
He shook his head but told her that all of his shots were up to date. He didn't need any more. She said, "Oh, my shots are up to date, too. Which is a good thing because I don't give needles to kids. Kids come to see me at my office, and on their first visit, I usually give them a tour."
Billy asked, "What kind of things do you have at your office?"
The lady got really excited as she started to tell Billy about the paints and games, and blocks and the different kinds of miniatures that kids could play with in a sand tray. Billy didn't want to let on that he didn't know what she meant, so he just nodded and pretended that he knew what a sand tray was.
When Mr. Murphy and Amy came into the kitchen, Mr. Murphy said, "Billy, tomorrow I would like to pick you up and take you to Mrs. Woods' office. Is that ok?" Billy nodded while finishing the last of his lemonade. He hoped that he could figure out what a sand tray was before then. All the adults walked to the front yard, and Billy decided to go upstairs and hug his stuffed bear. The bear helped get rid of his headaches if he hugged her long enough. Then he thought Mrs. Woods was a doctor; maybe she could help him get rid of the headaches, too.
That night Billy had more dreams of Nana. This time she was making him pancakes with chocolate chips. These were his favorite. He woke up sweating and afraid because he heard thunder and lightning. He really wanted to go to Amy's room and tell her that he was scared, but instead he lay frozen in his bed. He couldn't move. He fell asleep after a while.
Before he knew it, Amy was waking him up and suggesting that he wear his shorts because it was really hot out. He wanted to wear his pants because it didn't feel like a shorts day. He dressed quickly and went downstairs. To his surprise, Amy was making chocolate chip pancakes. Baby Colly already had eaten one and had chocolate all over her face.
He sat down but didn't really want to eat because his stomach hurt. Amy noticed his quietness and asked, "Are you nervous today about your appointment, Billy?"
Billy nodded. Amy sat down and in her soft voice said, "You know, Billy, Mrs. Woods doesn't usually come to kids' houses when she is going to become their therapist. But this time, Mr. Murphy thought you might feel less anxious if you met Mrs. Woods first."
Billy thought that made sense, but he didn't feel much better.
Amy reassured him that it would be fun and said, "Colly and Mr. Murphy and I will all come with you if that will make you feel better". Billy nodded and tried to eat a few bites of the pancakes.
The ride to Mrs. Woods' office was not too long. It was near the post office in a little white house that had a big red door.
They walked in with Colly's baby stroller and entered a waiting room with lots of books in it and toys for kids to use while they were waiting. Colly was pretty happy to be able to touch things.
Billy sat down with a book, but within seconds Mrs. Woods came through a door, smiled, and said, "Billy, it is your time to come into the playroom."
He wanted Amy or Mr. Murphy to come with him, but he didn't want to look like a little kid, so he slowly followed Mrs. Woods through the door. Inside, there was a very big playroom. There was an art easel, and lots and lots of shelves with toys on them.
Mrs. Woods sat down in a rocking chair. "Look around all you like, Billy," she said.
Billy explored the whole office, and after he finished, Mrs. Woods asked him if he had any questions. He had one, but he didn't want to let on that he didn't know the answer, so he said no. She sat there quietly, and Billy wished someone would talk before he forgot what his question was. Mrs. Woods sat still even longer until Billy finally asked, "Where is the sand tray that you were talking about?"
She smiled, got up and took the lid off a box. Inside was soft white sand that he couldn't wait to get his fingers into. She sat back in her rocking chair and said, "It can feel wonderful to put your hands in there. Try it!" He pushed his fingers into the sand, then buried his arms up to his elbows.
Excerpted from "Billy Had To Move"
Copyright © 2009 Theresa Ann Fraser.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Children's Books about Foster Care,
Web Sites for Caregivers, Social Workers, and Therapists,
About the Author,
About the Artist,
Other Great Titles for Foster Parents, Kids and Therapists,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Billy Had To Move is not a story about a kid coping with moving away from the place he grew up. It has that element to it, but there is so much more to it. Billy enters the foster system at the beginning of this story when his grandma and sole care giving dies unexpectedly. He has lived with his grandma since his mom stopped being able to take care of him. Social Services moved him there and then his mother disappeared. Now he has to be put in the foster care system because no one can find his mom to see if she is finally able to take care of Billy. Billy loses more than his grandma. He loses his home, school, and cat. He is placed with a family who has a little baby. The baby is his first step in healing since she likes Billy right from the start. Anyway, he ends up developing an anxiety disorder partly due to not understanding what is happening. He kind of understands what it means for his grandma to be dead, but he doesn't understand the concept of a funeral or why his mom hasn't been found. With time he learns to accept living with his foster family, but still can't stop the headaches, stomach aches, and nightmares he suffers from his anxiety. Being a ward of the state has an advantage though. The social worker that placed him in this home puts them in contact with a psychiatrist that specializes with kids that have suffered loss. She shows him how to play in order to vent his feelings, i.e. a coping mechanism. I enjoyed the book and felt like it put the situation into something kids could understand. It is meant for slightly older kids in my opinion though. The pages have a lot of text on them. There is a lot to read. I think that it turns a scary situation into something that shows kids that it can turn out ok. It doesn't make them think "Happily Ever After" but at least they see that they could be happy. Read more reviews at Identity Discovery Blog.
That was so sad ! I remember when I see kids crying at school and when I ask they what happen they always tell me that someone in there family died I would run to the bathroom and cry because it really hurts. I fill bad for Billy and any kid that is going through this just know that your not alone many kids go through it Im sorry and please all the kids that are not in foster care lets all help kids that are like not making fun of them and being nice to then please for the sake of God be nice to the poor children that don't have a home. Thank you for reading this and thank you so much to any body that will try to help. Thank You!!
In the book Billy Had To Move, Billy has been sent to live with his grandmother for his own safety by a social worker. Sadly, Billy grandmother passes away and Billy is left with no other family to care for him and is placed in a foster home. This book shows grief, fear, anxiety and finally acceptance and love. I think that Theresa Ann Fraser did a wonderful job fulfilling her purpose with this story. Many children are put through ¿the system¿, by no fault of their own. Theresa shows the perspective of the child. I really think the point of this book is to help other children who are in a similar predicament. It shows that the feelings they possess are normal. It also teaches them that it¿s okay to open up to others who are trying to help them. It¿s my opinion that Billy Had To Move would be a great book for any child going through foster care and their caregivers. Also, I believe this is an excellent book to share with children who have been adopted. As well as siblings and/or children living within the foster home who are now having the share their parents. Personally, this story holds my heartstrings. My niece was fostered a couple of times, before she ended up in our home, where ultimately we were able to adopt her. As her caregiver, while I think I understand what she¿s going through, I¿m aware that I will never fully understand. I think this story helped all of us understand a little better. I have a lot of respect for Ms. Fraser for tackling such a sensitive subject and doing so with such a genuine understanding.
Billy Had to Move is not your typical children¿s story because it is written from the perspective of a boy who has suffered great loss, and who experiences the procedure of foster care placement and therapy. It is the story of Billy, who went to live with his Nana (grandmother) when his mother could no longer take care of him. At the age of 7 his grandmother dies, his mother has disappeared, and he is placed in foster care with a kind family. As time passes and he begins to adjust, there is always the question of whether the Child Protection Services will find his mother and he will possibly have to move back with her. Billy then begins therapy and the story ends on a hopeful note. As a parent, this book certainly opened my eyes to the realities of foster care and the many complex issues these children face when confronting placement. I reread the story several times, and each time I appreciated the way the author¿s knowledge of foster care makes this book a great tool for all those involved in the field of Youth Protection Services. The caregiver¿s guide at the end of the book is an excellent addition for the caregiver as it points out the issues dealt in the story and the purpose of the book: ¿Using Billy Had to Move to normalize some of your child¿s symptoms and experiences is the primary purpose of this book. Billy Had to Move can be used as a tool to introduce foster care or therapy. It can also be used to help children recognize that they are not alone in experiencing various types of loss.¿ I read this book with my 8-year-old daughter who, at the end of the story, wanted it to continue so she could know how the play therapy was going to make Billy feel better. I understood that she wanted to be reassured he would feel better. She also pointed out that there were ¿too many words on the page¿. I agree that less paragraphs on one page and more illustrations will make this book more user-friendly for children of this age group, especially since the reader needs time to absorb the deep issues brought up in the story. Canadian author, Theresa Ann Fraser, has written an important book extremely useful to the foster care child, the caregiver, the therapist and the teacher. As such a book is not common, it is valuable for this field and also in all schools since, unfortunately, the number of cases dealt by the Youth Protection Services has become more common. Kudos to Theresa for her insightful assistance through this fine book!
In the book Billy Had To Move, Billy has been sent to live with his grandmother for his own safety by a social worker. Sadly, Billy grandmother passes away and Billy is left with no other family to care for him and is placed in a foster home. This book shows grief, fear, anxiety and finally acceptance and love. I think that Theresa Ann Fraser did a wonderful job fulfilling her purpose with this story. Many children are put through "the system", by no fault of their own. Theresa shows the perspective of the child. I really think the point of this book is to help other children who are in a similar predicament. It shows that the feelings they possess are normal. It also teaches them that it's okay to open up to others who are trying to help them. It's my opinion that Billy Had To Move would be a great book for any child going through foster care and their caregivers. Also, I believe this is an excellent book to share with children who have been adopted. As well as siblings and/or children living within the foster home who are now having the share their parents. Personally, this story holds my heartstrings. My niece was fostered a couple of times, before she ended up in our home, where ultimately we were able to adopt her. As her caregiver, while I think I understand what she's going through, I'm aware that I will never fully understand. I think this story helped all of us understand a little better. I have a lot of respect for Ms. Fraser for tackling such a sensitive subject and doing so with such a genuine understanding.
When you were a child, did you ever move from one place to another and thus have to cope with a new home, new school, new teacher, and new friends? What about a new family? Billy is a seven-year-old first grader. Earlier in the year a social worker had already come to his school because his mother couldn't take care of him and took him to live with his grandmother. After that his mother seemed to disappear. Then one day his grandmother dies. Mr. Lee, the principal, comes and gets him out of class again, and there is another social worker, Mr. Murphy, who takes him to a foster home where he is going to live with Amy, her husband Tim, and their baby daughter Colly. After Nana's funeral, Billy begins to experience some problems with headaches, tummy aches, and bad dreams. He overhears Amy tell Tim that she thinks that Billy is suffering from anxiety. Toward the end of grade two, Mr. Murphy returns with another social worker, Mrs. Woods, who is a Child and Play Therapist. Billy will start going to her office to talk with her about his feelings while he plays. Will Billy be able to get the help that he needs? All of us experience various kinds of trauma and loss in life, but these things can be particularly difficult for children, especially when the loss involves a close relative. Youth workers, foster parents, therapists, and anyone helping a young person cope with separation trauma will find this book extremely useful.
Billy Had to Move is not your typical children's story because it is written from the perspective of a boy who has suffered great loss, and who experiences the procedure of foster care placement and therapy. It is the story of Billy, who went to live with his Nana (grandmother) when his mother could no longer take care of him. At the age of 7 his grandmother dies, his mother has disappeared, and he is placed in foster care with a kind family. As time passes and he begins to adjust, there is always the question of whether the Child Protection Services will find his mother and he will possibly have to move back with her. Billy then begins therapy and the story ends on a hopeful note. As a parent, this book certainly opened my eyes to the realities of foster care and the many complex issues these children face when confronting placement. I reread the story several times, and each time I appreciated the way the author's knowledge of foster care makes this book a great tool for all those involved in the field of Youth Protection Services. The caregiver's guide at the end of the book is an excellent addition for the caregiver as it points out the issues dealt in the story and the purpose of the book: "Using Billy Had to Move to normalize some of your child's symptoms and experiences is the primary purpose of this book. Billy Had to Move can be used as a tool to introduce foster care or therapy. It can also be used to help children recognize that they are not alone in experiencing various types of loss." I read this book with my 8-year-old daughter who, at the end of the story, wanted it to continue so she could know how the play therapy was going to make Billy feel better. I understood that she wanted to be reassured he would feel better. She also pointed out that there were "too many words on the page". I agree that less paragraphs on one page and more illustrations will make this book more user-friendly for children of this age group, especially since the reader needs time to absorb the deep issues brought up in the story. Canadian author, Theresa Ann Fraser, has written an important book extremely useful to the foster care child, the caregiver, the therapist and the teacher. As such a book is not common, it is valuable for this field and also in all schools since, unfortunately, the number of cases dealt by the Youth Protection Services has become more common. Kudos to Theresa for her insightful assistance through this fine book!