Books for Queer Families: Mom and Mum are Getting Married!

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I bet you can guess the plot of Mom and Mum are Getting Married! Published in 2004 (in Canada, not the UK as I assumed from the Mum), the book tells of Rosie and Jack’s moms’ wedding – and Rosie’s desire to be a flower girl. The books does seem a little dated now – both because of the clothes in the illustrations and because Moms getting married in the middle of their kids childhood (and not because they are creating a blended family) is from a particular two decade-ish moment in time. This is certainly still happening, but now that same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. (and Canada and a dozen other countries), I think there will be less and less of two moms or two dads getting married after years and years together with several kids in tow.

Pros: Moms getting married is NEVER an issue. Yay! The only issue is Will Rosie Get to Be a Flower Girl/Ring Bearer, an issue that any kid who has been involved in a wedding will relate to.

Cons: I don’t love the illustrations. Not my favorite style (although I do really love Rosie at the wedding with a bandaid on her knee), and as mentioned, they look pretty dated now.

The Bottom Line: Worth reading, but you can totally just get it from the library.

Looking for more books about queer families? You can find the other books I’ve reviewed here.

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Books for Queer Families: Mom and Mum are Getting Married!

Books for Queer Families: Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies (written by Leslea Newman) was first published in 1989, making it a CLASSIC of lesbian children’s literature. It was reissued with new illustrations last year. Reviews of the reissue (illustrated by Laura Cornell) focused heavily on the fact that Heather’s mommies were now married (this portrayed through weddings band in the pictures, not mentioned outright), but as someone who actually read the first edition, I’m here to tell you that the big news is that the awkward pages on Mama Jane’s artificial insemination are now gone! Plot-wise, this is your basic, kid with two moms goes to school, discussion of family structures ensues story.

Pros: First of its kind! Plot is pretty basic and boring, but since it was first children’s book about two moms EVER that was in fact a novel concept at the time, so I will forgive it. It’s very respectful and having two moms is never presented as weird or a problem, just a thing to talk about, which is how you can tell the book was written by lesbian and not a straight lady.

Cons: I’m not that crazy about the new illustrations. The old ones were like some sort of tribute to 1970s lesbian feminism, so I can get that they needed an update, but the new ones are just kind of… messy. Not my favorite illustration style.

Bottom Line: If your kid has two moms, you should probably read this to them at some point (otherwise someone may reclaim your toaster), but you can totally get it from the library. Public/school libraries and non-two mom families could do way worse than the reissued version of this book if they are looking for a book about two mom families to share. Basically, go for it!

Books for Queer Families: Heather Has Two Mommies

Books for Queer Families: In Our Mothers’ House

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SPOILER ALERT: I hated this book. I hated this book SO MUCH.

In Our Mothers’ House, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, is a book without a strong plot – just a series of reminiscences by the oldest daughter of two women who grew up in Berkeley. She’s one of three kids (with a younger brother and sister) all adopted. The parents are white, the oldest daughter, black, middle son Asian, youngest daughter white – but there is no discussion of their racial differences at all, or any hints of challenges with their transracial adoption. It seems like a fairly idyllic childhood, except for the homophobic neighbor who appears on several pages.

Pros: Both the moms in this book *look* like lesbians. And yes, lesbians can and do look like any way you can imagine, but a fair number of them have short hair and don’t wear make-up and aren’t willow-thin and live in comfortable, not especially feminine clothes, and I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a woman depicted like that in another picture book. It made me EXTRA sad that I hated the story so much, since the illustrations had such promise for me.

Cons: First of all the whole book written in the past tense, which was so awkward to me, and made me think the who time that someone had died (and indeed, in the final pages, the mothers, by then grandmothers, did).

Second of all, and most importantly to me, THE HOMOPHOBIC NEIGHBOR, who serves no purpose and plays no role beyond being an especially hateful reminder that this family is DIFFERENT (even though the book otherwise seems be doing the good, liberal, “look how we are all the same” thing.) I just don’t think that there is ever any need to show gratuitous homophobia, especially in a PICTURE BOOK. There is no redemptive arch to the homophobia. The neighbor never comes around. She’s just there, being hateful.

The Bottom Line: This is a book that’s intended for older kids – a late elementary picture book, if you will. I can see that maybe it would be good (no, I’m not even going to say good, USEFUL) for straight kids of straight parents with very little exposure to queer folks to start a discussion about treating others, especially queer folks, with kindness. But honestly, I’m not worried about those kids. Straight parents – you should be able to teach your kids to be decent human beings without this book. I’m more concerned about the kids of gay parents who are being told in this book in big and little ways that their family is weird – and about gay kids thinking that this is the life they are going to grow up to. Those kids deserve way better than In Our Mother’s House.

Books for Queer Families: In Our Mothers’ House

Books for Queer Families: The Different Dragon

The Different Dragon

The Different Dragon, written by Jennifer Bryan and illustrated by Danamarie Hosler, is a different kind of two mom book as well! First of all, there are no moms or mommies or mothers or families mentioned in the title, which is amazing (actual non-queer people might just happen to pick this book up!), and second of all – HERE IS THE BOOK I WAS LOOKING FOR – the two moms are NOT a plot point and are NOT in any way what the book is about. Instead this is a book about a not-so-little boy’s bedtime and the bedtime story he makes up with one of his moms about a dragon who doesn’t want to be fierce any more.

Pros: Yay for family diversity that is just a fact of life and not something to be examined or questioned. I really liked the illustrations as well, and the fact that dragons (like boys and girls) can be any way they want to be, and don’t only have to be what folks expect of them.

Cons: The moms are named Momma and Go-Ma, which is fine (and probably reflects the author or some other family’s actual names), but felt awkward to me. It didn’t phase Frances at all though, so probably just my hang up.

The Bottom Line: Buy it! I also discovered this one at my local bookstore, and picked it up right away. Yay for a story in which a kid just happens to have two moms. I’m only sad that there are no more by this author and that the publishing company is on “hiatus”, so it doesn’t look like there will be any similar books coming from them in the future.

Books for Queer Families: The Different Dragon

Books for Queer Families: A Tale of Two Mommies

A Tale of Two Mommies

A Tale of Two Mommies, written by Vanita Oelschlager and illustrated by Mike Blanc, features a little boy at the beach with his two moms. Two other kids at the beach are curious about his family and ask him lots of questions about just how this two mommies thing works (Who takes you fishing? Who comes if you have a bad dream?)

Pros: Super cute illustrations. Features a brown skinned kid and two pale mommies, so yay for reflecting families that are diverse in more ways than one!

Cons: CAN WE STOP WITH THE “HOW COULD TWO MOMS (OR TWO DADS) HANDLE THE FULL PARENTING BUSINESS” TROPE ALREADY?!?! Do kids even ask these questions?!?! No one has asked Frances yet, but maybe it’s coming (I have gotten on the playground a few times: “she doesn’t have a dad?”, but no one has ever followed up with “but then who brushes her teeth?” or whatever.)

The Bottom Line: Unless you are specifically looking for a book that reflects transracial adoption in a family with two moms, then I say skip it. I discovered this book at my local bookstore and despite the fact that I loved the illustrations (and it was in paperback, thus cheap), I did not buy it because DEAR GOD, stop already with this ridiculousness.

(I know this will invariably get some comment on how I should write a children’s book, but that’s hard work, and not particularly my skill set. Maybe I’ll attempt it someday, but I’m still hoping that someone who is actually a children’s book author will write a regular old kid’s book, with a kid who just happens to have two moms or two dads).

Books for Queer Families: A Tale of Two Mommies

Books for Queer Families: Mommy, Mama, and Me

Mommy, Mama and Me

Mommy, Mama and Me, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Carol Thompson, is a board book about a young toddler with two moms. It’s actually never stated whether the kid is a boy or girl and the clothing is gender neutral, so you can totally project your own kid onto it! (Hence I choose to believe the kid in question is a girl. But she could be a boy!)

Pros: Book features two moms! Just your basic toddler board book, but with a family that looks like ours. Good illustrations, pretty straightforward story: I do these things with my Mommy. I do these things with my Mama. That’s it.

Cons: The rhyming cadence is sometimes a bit awkward, but that’s a pretty minor quibble.

I avoided this book for a while, because when Frances was a baby, we were both Mommy and the names didn’t match up. She has since taken to calling us Mommy (Jami) and Mama (me), and I feel pretty silly for avoiding to for that reason. The book is a little too young for her now (although we have it out of the library at the moment and she likes). If she was younger, I would totally buy this.

Books for Queer Families: Mommy, Mama, and Me

Books for Queer Families: Stella Brings the Family

Stella Brings the Family

I am always on the look out for books with two mommy or two daddy households. Seeing yourself reflected in books is powerful, and while I don’t have any aversion to children’s books with more “traditional” families, I do crave books that show Frances a family like her own.

Stella Brings the Family, written by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, is about a little girl with two dads. Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day celebration, and Stella isn’t sure what to do. She doesn’t have a mother!

Pros: Book features two dads! Two competent, loving, totally normal dads. AND another kid in the class has two moms! Good illustrations, pretty straightforward story.

Cons: WHY is the lack of a Mom on Mother’s Days such an issue? There are no homophobic jerks in this book. And the problem is resolved easily enough (Stella invites her whole family). And YET – Stella agonizes for a week in the book about what to do. She feels anxious, is too distracted by this dilemma to play soccer one day, can’t sleep another day. I am SO ready for a book about queer families where the queer family is not the problematic plot point.

Overall, I would actually mostly recommend this book. It’s a positive portrayal of diverse families. And every time Frances asks for this book, she says “And the boy has two mommies LIKE ME.” So clearly, this is a powerful thing, seeing a family like yours. I’m just still waiting for a book with queer families that isn’t ABOUT having two moms or two dads. Some day!

Books for Queer Families: Stella Brings the Family