Review Blog

Mar 04 2015

Heather has two mummies by Leslea Newman

cover image

Ill. by Laura Connell. Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781406359404
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Families, Same sex families. First published in 1989, this book was considered the first lesbian themed picture book published for children, so it is interesting to see how it holds up, twenty five years later. The American Library Association ranked it eleventh in the list of challenged books so it will be fascinating to see if it is still seen in such a light. Newman wrote it as a response to friends saying that there were no picture books which showed their situation that they could read with their kids, and in producing this book, she laid the groundwork to open people's eyes that the mum, dad and two kids stereotypical family is simply not the reality.
Heather loves the number two. She has two arms, two legs, two pets and two parents Mama Jane and Mama Kate. On her first day at school, the children talk about their families, and Heather begins to wonder if she is the only one who does not have a father, as the other children talk about what their fathers do. Ms Molly asks the class to draw their families, and when they pin them up, they see that each family is different. Some of the class live with stepfathers, some just with a mother, some just with their father, some with grandparents, some have two adults and one child, some have more than one child. Each family is different and each family is special to that child. The book underlines the fact that no two families are the same, each is different in its own way.
Newman subtly presents a theme that is underrepresented in children's books and this beautiful production will readily find a place in school libraries and bookshelves everywhere.
The soft watercolour illustrations perfectly match the tone of the book, showing children and families in their wondrous variety. Yes the book certainly holds up and is a welcome addition to the range of classics being reprinted by Walker books. For a full list of their reprinted books go here.
Fran Knight

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