Age: Picture Book, 1-5 years
Genre: Fiction, gay and lesbian families
The idea of a child having two mommies or daddies instead of one of each could be confusing for the child’s friends, as author Vanita Oelschlager explores in her two picture books, “A Tale of Two Mommies” and “A Tale of Two Daddies.” Each book portrays a young child being questioned by his or her playmates about which mom or dad helps with various tasks, such as baking a cake, looking for a lost kitty, or coaching T-ball. The child answers each question with one of two names for his or her parents (Momma and Mommy or Poppa and Daddy), or sometimes the answer is “neither” or “both.” Whatever the answer, the child proves he or she is taken care of no matter what the situation. With bright, colorful illustrations and a positive message, children with gay or lesbian parents could easily enjoy these books. Since there are still few books available for this market, simply by writing these books the author is helping reach out to children who are searching for a family like theirs portrayed in what they read. These books do not get into the more serious problems, such as teasing, that a child of gay or lesbian parents may face, but that’s okay because that is not the author’s aim. By focusing on everyday activities, loving parents, and playing with friends, these books are tailored for a young audience simply looking for a life like theirs. Though the publisher recommends these books for ages 4-8, they are better suited to ages five and under due to the picture book format and simple text.
I only had two problems with these books:
1. The parents are only shown from the waist down. I guess this was to give a child’s-eye view, but any child focuses on his parents’ faces and it makes the story seem incomplete without being able to visualize the whole family.
2. Each book ends abruptly. Since these are not really stories, just a series of questions, there is nowhere for the books to go, and maybe that’s why the author seems to just stop the books without real endings.
I would recommend these books for the non-traditional families they portray, not for their writing, which is simple rhymes and lacks creativity. These books could be shared with any child to help introduce lessons on different family structures and the idea of acceptance.
Oelschlager, Vanita. A Tale of Two Daddies. Vanita Books, 2010.
Oelschlager, Vanita. A Tale of Two Mommies. Vanita Books, 2011.