Book Review: No Matter What


No Matter What
By: Josh Shipp
Reviewed by: Katie Engen

Never sugar-coated, this kid-friendly tale is grounded with autobiographical truths about foster care. The author’s experiences add depth to this anthropomorphic treatment of foster care placement, which points to deep patience and abiding love as the key elements for successful family building. Josh the squirrel is no saint, but his trouble-making ways don’t deter Grace the stork as she tries again and again to deliver him to the right family. Streamlined text and clever artwork balance the drama and trauma of fitting into (or accepting) a foster family with well-timed, realistic humor. Josh’s fear of trusting anyone drives him to concoct new ways to reject or actively jeopardize his chances with all sorts of families. These include: pelicans (too fishy), porcupines (too prickly), leopards (he connected their dots with paint), and snakes (he tied them in knots). In fact, Josh seems more interested in getting rejected quickly than ever finding a home. Then, he meets the elephants. Rodney and Christine (named for the author’s real foster parents) connect with Josh’s sharp humor, while letting their size and patience stand against his troublesome antics, like tying together their tails or littering their lawn with flamingos. And every night they tell Josh, “We’re glad you’re here with us today. And we’re glad you’ll be here with us tomorrow.” The promise of tomorrow so overwhelms Josh that he plots trouble that plunges him and others into deep danger. With the help of a caring community (including many spurned foster families), the elephants are ready and able to save Josh. Finally, Josh agrees to never forget he will always be loved and have a home. The back cover includes stats on foster care that succinctly underscore the importance of Josh’s story for all readers.
Children’s Lit Reviewer Katie Engen, M.Ed., currently works in a private practice to mentor students with executive functioning and language processing challenges.

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