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by Terri Schlichenmeyer & r & & r & One Small Boat by Kathy Harrison & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & our kids are your life. You spend so many hours ferrying them from play date to school event that you almost feel like you live in your vehicle. You step on toys daily, make hundreds of sandwiches and wash thousands of loads of laundry on behalf of your kids. And you wouldn't have it any other way.

So you wonder, when you read statistics about abused kids: How could anybody do something like that?

Kathy Harrison wonders, too. Over the years, she and her husband, Bruce, have been foster parents to hundreds of kids. While Harrison remembers all the little ones that pass through her door, in One Small Boat, she recalls a little girl who lost an innocent childhood while gaining a chance at a real family.

Harrison had been told that the little girl was aggressive and possibly mentally handicapped, but when 6-year-old Daisy was brought to the household, it didn't take long for the Harrisons to fall in love with her. Daisy fit in well with the family, and she was a natural peacemaker. She learned quickly, showing a sharp mind and a sharper wit -- a real charmer. The Harrisons grew so attached to Daisy that, after just a few months, they began to discuss Daisy's adoptability. It appeared that the family was going to gain a new member.

And then Daisy's birth father showed up. And the little girl who had lost her childhood found a happy ending after all.

Fair warning: If you're a parent or someone with a beloved child in your life, it's going to be hard to pick up One Small Boat without wanting to read it straight through to the end.

Harrison obviously loves children and works hard to make frightened little ones feel safe, but I appreciated that she never made herself into SuperFosterMom. Being at the mercy of The System, caring for neglected children and raising a houseful of boisterous kids -- some with "issues" -- can understandably be a challenge, but Harrison is confident enough to reveal frustrations, anger and fears. This will endear her to those parents everywhere who sometimes feel the same emotions.

One Small Boat is not a fun-fun book. It may be hard for some parents to read. One thing is for certain, though: It'll make you hug your kids a little harder tonight.

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