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Who's in a Family? Paperback


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188367266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883672669
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 8.6 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beginning with a traditional nuclear family and ending with blank spaces in which the child reader is instructed to "draw a picture of your family," this slight book catalogues multicultural contemporary family units, including those with single parents, lesbian and gay parents, mixed-race couples, grandparents and divorced parents. Kevin and his brother like their kimono-clad grandmother to help them with their jigsaw puzzles, while Ricky lives with two families. "Aunt Amanda and Uncle Stan," pictured riding in a blue convertible with their pets, "don't have any children at all" but are "still a family," says the narrator, because "they say Mouser and Fred are their 'babies.'" Because "animals have families, too," the text describes elephant, lion, chimpanzee and dog families as well as human families. (A human family headed by a mother is "like the chimpanzee family. Mama chimp raises the babies by herself, with the help of any older children she may have.") Nienhaus's lackluster illustrations, the schoolmarmish tone of the text and the comparisons with wild animals all tend to undercut the final definition of a family as "the people who love you the most!" Ages 3-7.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2?Simple declarative statements move readers from one family configuration to the next, from single children to single parents to same-sex couples. Here and there animal families are juxtaposed with the human, presumably to show that certain situations are natural. For instance, one double-page spread shows a grandmother caring for her two grandsons while their mother is at work. The following page explains that the eldest female is also in charge in elephant families. While this may reassure some youngsters, it could also very well produce more questions than answers. Richly colored although somewhat two-dimensional pencil illustrations show loving families of a variety of races and colors in action. A serviceable, albeit surface, title.?Martha Topol, Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

An excellent book to validate YOUR family's configuration.
Kathy in Colorado
The writer makes utterly strange analogies with the animal world in ways that make no sense and that only superficially follow the point being made.
D. Navsaria
The little boy I wanted to give the book to questions why his Mom & Dad are not in his house only Grandma.
Rosanne OSullivan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern on July 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Like another reviewer, I was disappointed that none of these families reflects the reality for so many children: you can have two mommies, or two daddies. "Mom and her partner" not only doesn't come close to describing families with two moms, it undermines one of the child's primary relationships.

And I just found it rather boring. There's no plot. Most children would much rather read a story, and I'd much rather they saw a variety of families within stories instead of having this friendly little lecture.
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61 of 75 people found the following review helpful By F. Weinstock on August 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a white single mother of a bi-racial child, I'm always excited to find books that validate our family's composition. The problem with this one is that the main character whose family begins the book is a white girl who lives with her two white parents and sibling, has a dog and white grandparents. So the set-up is that her family is the "regular" kind and others are variations that aren't quite the same and are kind of exotic. I don't read this to my daughter anymore and I plan to throw it away.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By D. Navsaria on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm disappointed to see that the negative reviews of this books are largely due to concerns about the inclusiveness and diversity of this book. Frankly, you should avoid this book primarily because it's badly written, poorly illustrated, and boring to read. We had the misfortune of being given a copy as a gift.

The writer makes utterly strange analogies with the animal world in ways that make no sense and that only superficially follow the point being made. There is no "plot" per se, and it won't hold the interest of a child or the adult reading it, especially since the "message" of the book is transmitted not with skill and grace but through beating the reader over the head with it. The illustrations are flat and uninteresting, and the one attempt at showing physical resemblance between a grandfather and his grandchild is accomplished by the apparent fact that they both shop at Bob's House of Soviet Eyewear.

I'd give them the one star for effort and for trying to counter the intolerant mindset out there, but that's about all that's redeeming. This book has taken an important, valuable message about diversity and tolerance and left it lying senseless and bleeding in a dark alley.
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60 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Kathy in Colorado on June 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We searched for months for a book for our son that showed ALL types of families. This one hit the mark. While the illustrations may not be museum quality, the message is clear and understated. We have used this in our Sunday School class and based a Sunday service on the idea that "Families Valued" are not all plain vanilla. An excellent book to validate YOUR family's configuration.
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45 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a single mother in an area where this is not the norm. This book was wonderful in showing many different types of families to my three year old son. He really enjoyed the book and was especially excited to see photos of his own family in the back of the book. I put the pictures in before we read it and he felt so confident about his own family configuration afterwards. Family has been a very important topic lately as his friends have been asking why my son's family is different. The book is simple and to the point and allows for any additional comments a person might want to add. Thank you to Robert Skutch for writing such a needed book that helps instill family confidence.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nonfiction on February 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
From the other reviews it seems like this book manages to subtly offend many of us in the types of families the book was trying to support which is sad. I was hoping to find a book that showed many types of families in a positive light. Instead I found that I didn't want to share it with our child since it was more likely to make him feel like his own family was odd. In a book about different family types for this young an age group, it would have been nicer to describe the only child's family rather than using the "only child" label which young kids might not have heard of or identify with. Most of the other families are described rather than labeled. Also, for such a young age group pointing out that an only might need to bring along a friend (sibling substitute) on a camping trip points out something that many preschool/early elementary school aged onlies haven't even begun to think about. I know these are subtle points but it seems like the book just misses the mark for several of the types of families portrayed. Maybe the publisher could update it at some point because the general concept of the book is great.
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34 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This colorful story is one of the best picture books that I have seen for portraying families in all their diversity. A very bright and inclusive look at who makes up a family in America today
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By lesmom on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is better than many, but falls short by not recognizing two moms or two dads as both parents. For now i change the wording when I read it, but when my son can read that won't work. Like another reviewer, i noticed the initial nuclear white family being first. There are some other subtleties that bother me. The only child "sometimes invites her friend to go camping", the assumption being an only child family is incomplete. Same with the two adult family, their pets are their "kids". Single dads are seen playing with their children, single moms are picking up their kids from the sitter. The book does at least have a variety of people of color and talk about skin color which many books don't. There is also a blending in of talking about animal families that is odd, bringing up animal behavior like elephants living in same sex packs. See kids it really is natural, some animals do it too- who is the author trying to convince? All this said, sadly, I have not found one of these all kinds of families book I like better.
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