The Secret Language of SB

“An emotionally flawless tale.”  Kirkus Review


Adam can always tell the signs of an SB day – a day when Something Big is sure to happen.  So when his mother tells him that they’re going to be taking in a foster child, he’s not completely surprised.  But Adam is used to being an only child, and he’s not at all sure about Susan, a girl from Taiwan who speaks little English, and will not only be in his house but in his class at school.  Susan makes it clear from the beginning that she’s not sure about him either, and is in no hurry to be his friend.  But little by little they find themselves sharing secrets and problems, and soon a rare friendship emerges - one that changes them both, and leaves them hoping that Susan can stay for good.


The ways children communicate with each other-sometimes without speaking-is the understated theme of this sensitive story about foster families. "SB" days are the ones when Adam finds clues that "something big" is going to happen to him or his family. He's seldom wrong, though sometimes all he has to go on are "small changes and strange feelings" in their normal routine. But no previous experience has prepared Adam for the SB day when his parents tell him that Susan, a Taiwanese orphan, will be staying with them until a foster home can be found for her. To Adam, Susan seems odd: she speaks little English and doesn't seem to appreciate that, for the first time in his life, he is having to share his parents. But Susan wins Adam's respect when she excels at soccer; and she finds a supportive confidant in Adam when her difficulties with English threaten to sink her at school. Susan is placed in a foster home by the story's close, a realistic ending to an emotionally flawless tale. Adam's own growth is genuine-his bond with Susan sweet and almost intangible, a discovery as rare and fleeting in real life as it is in books.

The Kirkus Review