Review also includes:
Stella Brings the Family, * * * *, Miriam B Schiffer, ill. Molly Clifton-Brown, Chronicle Books, 36pp, 978-1452111902
Two books about same gender parents, one a new production and the other a new edition of a modern classic. Both are very welcome additions to a rather sparse collection of books on the subject and both will be very useful for the younger age range. Heather Has Two Mummies has been around since 1989, but with new illustrations, it is fresh as paint! Heather loves things that come in twos – feet, hands, eyes and legs. She has two pets too, a dog and a cat, but most of all she loves her two mums – Mama Jane and Mama Kate. They have a happy life together in their house with an apple tree, and one day the two mummies tell Heather that she is to have a new experience; she is to go to nursery school. Heather likes the look of the school. There are lots of children and plenty of things to do, and she is only a little weepy when Mama Jane and Mama Kate kiss her goodbye. Soon she is busily happy, but is a tad perturbed when the children begin discussing daddies: ‘Am I the only one here who doesn’t have a daddy?’ When the teacher suggests that the children might all want to draw a picture of their family, Heather soon discovers that there are all sorts of families and that ‘each family is special’. The detail in the bright pictures is wonderfully fun, and Heather’s remarkable dress sense shows us a real individual.
The second book, Stella Brings the Family, features two dads and their daughter Stella. It hasn’t occurred to Stella to think there is anything unusual about her family until her teacher says they are to have a party for Mother’s Day and invite a special guest. This is worrying. Stella has no mother to bring. The other children are a bit amazed. Who reads you stories? Who packs your lunch? Well, of course, Daddy and Papa do all that, but she still doesn’t have a mum. She does have lots of family who help her in all sorts of ways, so one of her friends suggests that she brings them all. It is quite a group that arrives for the Mother’s Day party – Daddy and Papa, of course, but also Nonna, Aunt Gloria, Uncle Bruno, and Cousin Lucy. There is another child there with two mothers, and Stella soon learns there are all kinds of families. The watercolour illustrations are very child-like and warm, and the simple faces on the children are nevertheless full of expression. There are a few Americanisms, which are to be expected in a book from across the pond, but nothing that should need much explanation. Interestingly, both books use the device of the children painting pictures of their families to show how families differ.
These two books belong in every library where there are children to be found with different backgrounds, whatever that background may be.