Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman

Published: 11th March 2015Goodreads badge
 Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Laura Cornell
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. It doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the teacher says, because “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.”

This is the book. The book that everyone talks about, mainly because in 1989 when it was published it was one of the only books of its kind and no doubt was a smidge controversial. Thankfully there are a lot more out now and we have a little variety. My copy calls it a modern classic which it probably is, but I’m glad there are a lot more variations out there now.

The story isn’t actually focused on Heather’s two mummies, instead Heather is the main theme as we learn all about her. Newman tells us about how Heather’s favourite number is two and all the two things she has and does. It just so happens one of those twos is two mummies. As a whole it is also a great book about the different families there are: single parent, grandparents, step parents, same-sex parents.

The story doesn’t focus on how Heather copes with her two mummies, or the “controversy” of having two mummies. It is a perfectly sweet story that only happens to have two mummies in it. It is a wonderful book about being loved, new adventures, and the wonderful diversity of all family.

The illustrations are painted pictures with lots of colour by Cornell. There are full and double page pictures with lots of detail to keep little eyes busy. Cornell’s style is clear but also a lovely style of painted figures and backgrounds with no solid edges. The variety of colours is admirable and it highlights her great skillset. The text is simple and there is a rhythm but no rhyme, and Cornell illustrates Newman’s words with realism but with her own interpretation as well.

I was surprised because I had only heard mention of this book, but having found a copy I am glad to say I have read it. As I say, I am glad there are so many more out there now to read, but this one hasn’t aged and certainly isn’t dated. At its core it is about Heather and it is about family, something that never changes.

You can purchase Heather Has Two Mommies via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Donovan’s Big Day by Lesléa Newman

Published: 26th April 2011Goodreads badge
 Tricycle Press
Illustrator: Mike Dutton
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★  ★  – 3 Stars

Donovan’s two moms are getting married, and he can’t wait for the celebration to begin. After all, as ringbearer, he has a very important job to do. Any boy or girl with same-sex parents—or who knows a same-sex couple—will appreciate this picture book about love, family, and marriage.  The story captures the joy and excitement of a wedding day while the illustrations show the happy occasion from a child’s point of view. 

The story is told through Donovan’s point of view and seeing his experience of the world and the Big Day was fun as Newman has mimicked the excited mind of a child and the urge to be a kid despite the importance and the fancy clothes he has to wear.

I liked the book and I enjoyed the story, I just found I couldn’t get into a rhythm reading it. It reads off like a list of things, which from a child’s mind works, but reading it I couldn’t get the flow right. The sentences are long and without punctuation which admittedly helps to convey the mind of an excited child. It is clear Donovan is going through a list in his mind of things he has been told to do and what not to do. It does make it hard to read and you have to find your own rhythm when reading but it is nice.

There’s no big agenda or message, it is all about Donavan doing his best on the Big Day. The focus is on him doing his job well and that makes it a different kind of read. One where the focus is on the child experience and his role, not the type of event. Having said that, it’s a great book that normalises a same-sex marriage and the family dynamic.

Dutton’s illustrations are good and help support the story Newman is telling. Donovan explains each step of his day and Dutton illustrates beside it in both full page and smaller illustrations. Overall, it’s a good book that promotes a child doing an important job and taking pride in doing it right. What he’s doing essentially doesn’t matter and it demonstrates that there are a lot of things you have to remember when doing an important job, especially for people you love.

You can purchase Donovan’s Big Day via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon