Children's Book Author Creates Forum for Tween Girls and Their Moms

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New school year presents opportunities for creating understanding and celebrating diversity

We wanted to introduce the idea of adoption--and in this case, international adoption--in a non-threatening way, and help make it okay for children who might feel different for any number of reasons

It's no secret that middle school isn't for the faint of heart. But for Eden Roth, the circumstances surrounding her birth make a tough time that much worse. Eden was adopted from China as a baby--something her peers have a hard time understanding, and which makes her an easy target.

"I told my parents I was going to get made fun of even more in middle school. The kids are older and think they can do more hurtful things because they aren't as closely watched as we were in the elementary school," states Eden.

" A lot of times when my friend make Chinese jokes, I don't think they even realize what they are saying," she adds. "They don't think I'd be offended, but I am. It's like 'HELLO! I'm Chinese!' Usually I don't show or tell them that the joke hurt me. I just suffer in silence."

When Eden was growing up, her parents--writer Darlene Friedman and children's book illustrator Roger Roth--recognized a dearth of books dealing with adoption within a school setting. And school, of course, is where children spend the majority of their time.

So Friedman, who serves as senior director of membership marketing with Soroptimist in Philadelphia, and Roth wrote and illustrated Star of the Week, A Story of Love, Adoption and Brownies with Sprinkles, recently released to positive reviews by HarperCollins Children's Books. It tells the story of Cassidy-Li, a kindergartener about to become Star of the Week, an assignment at once exciting and anxiety producing for the young girl who was adopted as a baby from China.

"We wanted to introduce the idea of adoption--and in this case, international adoption--in a non-threatening way, and help make it okay for children who might feel different for any number of reasons," states Friedman. "Our intent with the book is to start a healthy dialogue and cement the idea that what we share as humans is far greater than our differences."

Now that their daughter is in middle school, the issues surrounding adoption and cultural differences have only grown more intense. Eden, with her mom, decided to start a blog and facebook page called "Eden's Garden" as a way to reach out to growing girls and their moms. It seeks to continue the dialogue where the book leaves off.

"Eden is a very communicative young woman. Expressing her feelings through writing and feeling like she is helping others is cathartic for her," Friedman explains. "She and I started our blog to give older girls a voice. We want to serve as a resource for the adoption community, but also as a place where any girl can go to chat about what's on her mind.--good or bad.

"It's a new school year, and problems such as teasing, exclusion and bullying generally begin to surface pretty early on. We hope girls, their moms--and even teachers and guidance counselors--will weigh in with their thoughts," Friedman says. "Of course we also encourage discussion on lighter topics such as movies, books and hobbies. Eden is a "Twilight" fanatic, so I'm sure there will be lots of discussion about that as the New Moon movie premiere approaches!"

Eden's Garden is located at and the corresponding facebook page is also called Eden's Garden, located at

The blog encourages independence and self-confidence, and celebrates the many differences that make people unique. It will also shed light on conditions for women and girls throughout the world--a subject important to Friedman and tied to her work with Soroptimist, an international women's organization.

"Everyone is unique, no matter what anybody says," emphasizes Eden. "Being different is a good thing!"

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Soroptimist offers programs that improve the lives of women and girls through three distinct platforms: economic empowerment, elimination of violence, and gender equality. Its major program, the Soroptimist Women's Opportunity Awards, provides cash grants for women seeking to improve their lives with the help of additional education and training. Each year, more than $1 million is disbursed to deserving women through this award-winning program. Soroptimist, a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on charitable donations to support its programs, also sponsors the Live Your Dream campaign in recognition of the power of women and their dreams. Visit the campaign's online home at: For more information on Soroptimist, visit


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Jessica Levinson

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