Books About Nontraditional Families
Other Topics | Main Book Reviews






"ABC: A Family Alphabet Book"
Written by Bobbie Combs
Illustrated by Desiree Keane & Brian Rappa
(Two Lives, 2002)

An alphabet primer where same-sex parents take center stage... (-)

"Emma and Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story"
Written by Kaitlyn Taylor Considine
Illustrated by Kaitlyn Taylor Considine
(TwoMommies.com, 2005)

(-)

"Jack And Jim"
Written by Kitty Crowther
Illustrated by Peter Ferguson
(Hyperion, 2000)

(-)

"King & King"
Written by Linda de Haan
Illustrated by Stern Nijland
(Tricycle Press, 2002)

An alterna-version fairy tale, in which The Prince falls for The Prince... (-)

"King & King & Family"
Written by Linda de Haan
Illustrated by Stern Nijland
(Tricycle Press, 2004)

An alterna-version fairy tale, in which The Prince falls for The Prince... (-)

"The Sissy Duckling"
Written by Harvey Fierstein
Illustrated by Henry Cole
(Aladdin, 2005)

(-)

"Holly's Secret"
Written by Nancy Garden
(Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000)

A young adult novel about a young girl who tries to create a new identity and hide her adoption and her lesbian mothers from her peers in middle school... (-)

"Molly's Family"
Written by Nancy Garden
Illustrated by Sharon Wooding
(Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004)

(-)

"All Families Are Different"
Written by Sol Gorden
Illustrated by Vivien Cohen
(Prometheus, 2000)

(-)

"My Hippie Grandmother"
Written by Reeve Lindberg
Illustrated by Abby Carter
(Candlewick, 2003)

The author's grandmother was not a hippie -- although her parents were, in fact, the esteemed Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindberg -- but the cultural divide is easily bridged in this well-written, lighthearted, playful celebration of the life-embracing aspects of hippie culture. A little girl loves hanging out with her fun-loving grandmother, who drives a purple bus, grows organic food, pickets city hall at lunchtime and sings folk songs on the banjo. Her grandmother smiles beatifically and encourages the girl to believe she can do anything she wants to in life, and naturally one of the girl's goals is to grow up just like her Nana. It's a sweet story, laced with wry humor but also respectful of an often-mocked subculture. The artwork is fun, too, as is the writing, which is unusually strong, particularly in the effective, consistent rhyme pattern. Recommended... even if you don't like flowery garlands or the Grateful Dead. (A)

"Mini Mia And Her Darling Uncle"
Written by Pija Lindenbaum
Illustrated by Pija Lindenbaum
(R&S/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007)

A precocious, cantankerous little girl named Emma has a hard time adjusting when Tommy, her funnest, funniest, favorite gay uncle hooks up with a new boyfriend. Immediately jealous, Emma becomes increasingly rude and gives Fergus grief every time she sees him, until one day Tommy gets the flu and the two rivals are left alone together. At first there's no common ground, but when Emma finds out that Fergus really knows how to play soccer, she finally warms up and accepts him into the family. The translation from Swedish to English seems a little rigid, but the sharp comedic beats come through, and the prickly, self-absorbed Emma emerges as one of the most endearing, realistic characters in kid's lit today. Lots to cheer about here: it's nice is that the drama isn't really about the uncle being gay, but rather how Emma has to come to terms with her jealousy -- the same story could easily be told about a divorced or widowed parent remarrying or dating again, and really, that's the point. Also, the early scenes where Tommy and Emma are hanging out are great -- everyone should have a relative who likes to have play-dead days at home, or who likes to hop on two feet everywhere they go. Great artwork enhances the wickedly funny text... This one's a winner! (A)


"A Color Of His Own"
Written by Leo Lionni
Illustrated by Leo Lionni
(Alfred A. Knopf, 1975)
A young chameleon ponders the nature of life, and wonders if is possible for chameleons to have just one color, a color of one's own, as it were. He tries staying still on a green leaf, but the leaf changes color in the autumn, then falls from the tree, leaving the chameleon back at square zero. In the spring, the green returns, and the crestfallen critter meets another, older, wiser chameleon who suggests that, while it isn't possible to stay one color, that maybe if the two of them stayed together, they could be the same colors together, and thus not live alone. The story is an effective, albeit quirky, comment on impermanence, identity and companionship. It can also be seen, perhaps, as a gay lib tale, since both of the chameleons are male. (Eeek. Save your children! The swishy lizards are coming!) (B-)

"Heather Has Two Mommies"
Written by Leslea Newman
Illustrated by Diana Souza
(Alyson, 1990)

(-)

"Felicia's Favorite Story"
Written by Leslea Newman
Illustrated by Diana Souza
(Two Lives, 2002)

A little girl loves to hear the story of her own adoption, lovingly told to her by her two mommies... (-)

"A Fire Engine For Ruthie"
Written by Leslea Newman
Illustrated by Cyd Moore
(Clarion, 2004)

When Ruthie goes for a long visit to her grandmother's house, Nana has a bunch of great activities planned out, but the trouble is they're all too girly for Ruthie, who is a bit of a tomboy. Nana wants to play dress-up and give Ruthie her old dolls, and do arts-and-crafts projects, but Ruthie keeps trying to hook up with the kid next door, a boy who has toy trucks and trains and motorcycles to play with. It takes several days for Nana to catch on, and though her feelings are a little hurt at first, she finally takes Ruthie over for a playdate, where all three of them have a great time playing with all those great toys that have wheels. This book certainly wears its message on its sleeve, but still a nice story. The ending, where Nana gets into their playtime, is cool, and the day-by-day, step-by-step structure helps build the narrative. Nice artwork, too. Whether you're reading to a boy, a tomboy or a girly-girl, this is a cool story about how adults can learn to listen and find out what their kids are really interested in... Also nice for all the alterna- and nontraditional types out there. Recommended! (A)


"The Boy Who Cried Fabulous"
Written by Leslea Newman
Illustrated by Peter Ferguson
(Tricycle Press, 2004)

(-)

"The Family Book"
Written by Todd Parr
Illustrated by Todd Parr
(Little Brown, 2003)

(-)

"It's Okay To Be Different"
Written by Todd Parr
Illustrated by Todd Parr
(Little Brown, 2004)

(-)

"And Tango Makes Three"
Written by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
(Simon & Schuster, 2005)

A zoo book with a twist...! This is the true-life story of two gay penguins (named Silo and Roy) living in the Central Park Zoo who went through all the typical penguin mating rituals and built a nest together, but were thwarted when they tried to have a baby. A thoughtful zookeeper gave them a foundling egg, which they dutifully sat on and hatched. Then they raised the chick, named Tango, and taught her all the little things a penguin must learn (like swimming, eating raw fish and looking cute). This is a great book for same-sex parents who have adopted or artificially inseminated -- some other books tackle the "two dads/two moms" issue, but few are as enchanting and as authoritative as this one. Recommended! (A)


"Who's In A Family?"
Written by Robert Skutch
Illustrated by Laura Nienhaus
(Tricycle Press, 1995)

An alphabet primer where same-sex parents take center stage... (-)

"One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads"
Written by Johnny Valentine
Illustrated by Todd Parr
(Alyson, 1994)

(-)

"Daddy's Roommate"
Written by Michael Willhoite
Illustrated by Michael Willhoite
(Alyson, 1991)

(-)

"William's Doll"
Written by Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by William Pene Du Bois
(Harper & Row, 1972)

An epochal book about outsiders and kids who are "different," this story was later adapted to be part of Marlo Thomas's kid's music revue, "Free To Be You And Me." The story is simple: William is a boy who wants to own a doll so that he can care for and nurture it. His brother mocks him, calling him a sissy and a creep, and his father tries to steer him towards more "manly" pursuits, like basketball and model trains. Finally, his grandmother visits and sticks up for him, buying him the doll he wants and telling the dad to chill out. It's a good story, although there are a couple of teensy sticking points... Even though it's kind of the point of the book, the schoolyard mockery and verbal abuse may be a bit jarring for smaller children. (It's easy to read around, though...) Also, although the story is supposed to be about how it's normal and okay for boys to want to play with dolls, William is dressed somewhat effeminately, like a stereotyped, old-fashioned prep-school gay, complete with a signature red ascot. In some ways it would have been cooler if he'd been dressed like a plain old, grubby little boy, in t-shirt and shorts, or whatever. Still, the book holds up pretty well even with the hippie-era artwork, and the message is still quite welcome. (A)




Related Reading

"Voices From The Margins: An Annotated Bibliography Of Fiction On Disabilities And Differences For Young People"
Written by Marilyn Ward
(Greenwood, 2002)

A survey of children's literature from 1990-2001. I haven't read this myself, but I imagine it's a very good resource. (-)




Related Topics:
More Books | Topic List



Home Page

Other Book Reviews
Slipcue.Com (Music & Film)




Copyright owned by Read That Again.Com.  All Rights Reserved.  
Unauthorized use, reproduction or translation is prohibited.