A book written for and inspired by her younger self growing up in state care is author Felicity Graham’s message of understanding and of family for children growing up in similar situations.
Oscar’s Layers is set in a group home called Caeser’s House and tells the story of a young onion named Oscar. It introduces other salad-based characters including Mrs Egg the youth worker, the Lettuce brothers, Tommy Tomato (Oscar’s best friend), and the Chives who are Oscar’s dad and little sister.
Felicity says writing the book was her way of helping children in care to not feel alone like she did when she was younger, and to help them feel understood and that they do matter.
“So, Oscar has layers – being an onion – and the layers represent the walls that kids in care build up to protect themselves,” Felicity explains.
“As Oscar lets adults help him and finally feels at home, layers fall off.
“It just represents how kids can help adults help them and just feel loved and understood and wanted.”
Felicity, CEO of Fostering Change Australia and a passionate advocate for children in care and their carers, was a part of AnglicareSA’s Post Care Pathways program that houses and supports young people leaving state care in partnership with Believe Housing Australia.
She says her book, which she plans to turn into a series, explores several themes including finding ways to express feelings, struggling in school, bullying, fear of the unknown, and importantly – family.
“It’s a book for all children really because it’s about family,” Felicity says. “It’s about finding your family and that families come in all different shapes and sizes – where there’s also two mums, two dads, grandparents, aunties, adoptive parents, and foster parents.
“Plus, there are different types of care, not just foster families. Kids go to different families all the time, or they go into group homes, sometimes it’s kinship care with family members, so it’s not just about one aspect of foster care.”
When she was 17, Felicity penned her autobiography Not Held Down to raise awareness about the challenges in the child protection system and to give a voice to children in care.
Turning her hand to children’s fiction was a challenge she says, however the writing process for Oscar’s Layers was therapeutic and a way of being able to share her fears in book form.
“To be able to have that healing process of little Felicity, the little girl who didn’t understand, and to be able to use that and use small young me as my inspiration enabled me to write something that I wish I had at the time.
“It was really healing I think and therapeutic because I was able to write to a little six-year-old me.”
Felicity will officially launch Oscar’s Layers on 1 July at Studio Safari, 80 Ifould St, Adelaide. You can book a free ticket through the Eventbrite link.