Little Bear, the main character in The Luckiest Child: Becoming a Blended Family, is worried and sad about what Papa Bear announced during dinner one night. There was a new addition coming to their small family – a step-mama Bear! Little Bear, Papa Bear, and his bride-to-be, Ruby Bear, are becoming a “blended family.”
The book begins by explaining the concept of a blended family. “Being part of a blended family may simply mean that you have an extra parent, like a stepmom or stepdad, who loves you. But not all blended families look the same…” explains author, Zoie Seay. Little Bear’s life was going to change drastically. The only family he had ever known was Papa Bear and Mama Bear, his biological mother, although they no longer lived together.
As he grapples with this dilemma, Little Bear gets a visit from Lucky, a four-leaf clover with a magical backpack and an arsenal of tools to help Little Bear overcome his worst fears. Lucky begins to appear whenever Little Bear goes out to play in his backyard. He possesses things like a special time machine shoe, worry-free dust, and a remote to turn on “leaf TV” to watch possible scenarios play out in real life. Little Bear asks Lucky all the questions he has about becoming a blended family. “Always remember that no matter who joins your family, no one can never change the special connection you have with your Mama and Papa Bear – not even Ruby Bear,” Lucky reassures him. After a few visits, a little bit of magic, and lots of answers, Little Bear learns about love and compromise, and why a blended family may not be such a bad thing after all.
When I first got my hands on this book, I did not read the description and just jumped right into the first page. Admittedly, I was not expecting the magical character, Lucky, to appear and save the day but it worked very well with the story. Before the tale even begins, readers get a glimpse of Lucky, so they know what to expect, but the introduction was not crucial to the story. Lucky’s appearance is not unusual in this fictional fantasy world where bears personify people. Little Bear needed a confidant, and Lucky had all the tools to make him feel comfortable, as well as the insight to provide answers to his questions.
Once Little Bear understands that having Ruby Bear as a stepmom would not take away from his relationship with his biological parents, he is able to see the benefits of becoming a blended family. In the last page of the story, we see Little Bear in his backyard with his Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Step-Mama Bear, Ruby. We learn that Little Bear accepts his new family, but we do not get to read about how Little Bear begins interacts with them just yet. Hopefully, we see more of the Bears in the upcoming books of this series by Zoie Seay.
The Luckiest Child: Becoming a Blended Family is a necessary book for children of parents who are going through a divorce, transitioning into a stepparent/parent dynamic, or even having additional family members move in for other reasons. Welcoming a stepparent or a new relative can be frightening for any child, especially those who are still grieving their parents’ divorce. Children need time to readjust and build trust. They also require compassion, care, and love from their family for a stress-free transition. Zoie Seay does a great job of summarizing the fears that a child may be experiencing but not necessarily divulging. The imaginary character, Lucky, represents the trusted adult relative, spiritual leader, or therapist that helps the child sort through their feelings. Seay’s creative storytelling style, her portrayal of the Bear family, as well as the vibrant illustrations by Ravin Kaur make this an appealing book for young readers. It would also be a great addition to libraries, schools, mental health clinics, and for story time inside and outside the classroom.
Interview with Author Zoie Seay
Northern Virginia native Zoie Seay was raised in a tight-knit, active family of four. Her love of children inspired her to work as a caregiver, sports camp counselor, and community volunteer. She graduated from college with a degree in Recreational and Park Management and went on to teach, plan community events, coach high school volleyball, and run her own sports camp. She also organized and oversaw life enrichment programs for senior citizens. During her 15-plus years of working with children, Zoie welcomed a family of her own. Her blended family includes an amazing young bonus son and a loving father. They enjoy recreational activities, trying culturally diverse foods, traveling, and creating new memories whenever they can. Her family and accomplishments have inspired her to better understand children’s mental, emotional health, and overall wellbeing.
Zoie’s background with children and strong family values have given her the courage to express her passion by becoming an author. With that dream becoming a reality, she has written her first book, The Luckiest Child: Becoming a Blended Family as part of a series. Her goal is that parents will use her books as tools to support their children in the adjustment and understanding of their new family dynamic. I had the pleasure of interviewing her recently.
1. What inspired you to write The Luckiest Child?
My stepson is the one who inspired me to write The Luckiest Child. Since he had Mommy and Me books and Daddy and Me books, he wondered why there weren't more books that represented a blended family like ours. So, when I didn't come across enough books that helped kids going through what can be a very difficult situation, I decided to write one.
2. What were some of the challenges you encountered becoming a blended family?
Blending a family takes time and patience. It doesn’t happen immediately and sometimes doesn't happen at all. It takes strength, discipline, thick skin, hard work and dedication to be able to succeed at being happy in a blended family. It can be difficult on everyone involved in the long transition.
As a stepparent, you have a hard time finding your place because you always feel like an outsider and that you're doing more harm than good. As a biological parent, it can be hard to see another adult impacting your child’s life. As a child, it can be a confusing emotional rollercoaster. As the parent in the new relationship, you second guess yourself, wondering if you made the right choice and worrying about the consequences of that choice every day.
3. How do you think your book can help children with this transition?
It is providing children and parents with tools they can utilize to work toward being a functioning blended family. For adults, it provides a platform for parents to spark up those difficult conversations they don't know how to have with their children. For children, it provides a resource that makes them feel more confident about their situation. This confidence encourages them to feel more comfortable talking to their parents about those difficult and confusing feelings they may not have the words for.
4. What is your educational background and how did you get into writing?
I have an associate degree and have been working with children for over 15 years. I have worked with children as young as two and as old as 18. Never in a million years did I think I'd be a writer, but my stepson encouraged me to do it. I think my six plus years in the school system and working with children with a variety of backgrounds has made me a more understanding and empathetic person. I strive to make a difference in people's lives and books have always been a great way to connect with people.
5. What other stories/themes can we anticipate will be covered in upcoming books in the series?
The Luckiest Child: Becoming a Blended Family is the first of The Luckiest Child series. The series will consist of about five to six books, touching base on the difficulties children face being part of a blended/adoptive/foster family. The next books in the series will touch on:
- the struggles/guilt a child faces when they love a mom/dad and stepmom/dad.
- going from being an only child to having siblings (stepbrothers and stepsisters).
I have another book coming out with the next month or so, but the next book in "The Luckiest Child" series should be out in late winter/early spring 2023.
For more information about Zoie Seay and her books, visit her website or follow her on social media:
Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.