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Love Is a Family Paperback – April 1, 2004
All Books, All the Time
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Lily storms home to her mother one day, demanding a real family. It's Family Fun Night at school, and she's positive they'll be the weirdest family there. Her single-parent mom doesn't seem overly fazed, reminding her daughter that they are a "small kind" of family, but real nonetheless. Lily isn't convinced. She seeks refuge in the noise and pillow fights of her friend Melissa's crowded house until it's time for the school event, where, surprise! it turns out her little family isn't unusual at all. Remi lives with just her dad--her mom died and she has no siblings. Tamika is adopted and has a puppy. Josh and Tony live with their grandparents. By the end of the evening, Lily understands that "Love is what makes a family."
Devoted followers of TV's Touched by an Angel star, Roma Downey, will be thrilled to see "Monica" has written her first children's book. Any child who has ever felt mortified at the quirks of his or her family will find solace in Lily's revelation. Of course, all the families in Lily's classroom seem highly functional, as well as heterosexual. In the litany of differences ("They saw families with step-dads and step-moms and half-sisters and half-brothers. There were single moms and single dads and families made up of different colors of skin."), readers who anticipate something along the lines of "and families with two mommies" will be disappointed. But that's what Heather Has Two Mommies is for. Justine Gasquet's colorful, almost cartoonish illustrations will be another bonus for Roma Downey fans--the mom looks just like Downey! (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-It is time for Family Fun Night at school and Lily, who lives with her single mother, wishes she could go with a "real" family. Her mother tells her, "-most of the time our little family feels just right to me. Love is what makes a family, and we've got plenty of that." The child's fears about feeling uncomfortable at the event turn out to be unfounded. Lily and her mom meet a girl whose mother has died, leaving her alone with her dad; an adopted child; two brothers who live with their grandparents; stepfamilies; and half brothers and half sisters. The paintings have childlike perspectives and are effective in showing the young protagonist standing alone in her ordered, quiet home in contrast to the busy activity of the large, noisy household next door. The book sensitively addresses the issue of being different and finding common values in diversity. Children in nontraditional families might feel reassured by having their situation affirmed, but the message overpowers the thin story line.
Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The absence of same-sex parent families is so obvious that it seems a deliberate act of exclusion. This is heartbreaking when the book is chosen by a child of such a family specifically in hopes of seeing a family similar to their own. There are so few books available for children of gay families that it seems a shame to have missed such an obvious opportunity to help meet that need.
Aside from this omission, the book itself is a simple story that can be shared with children of nontraditional, hetero parent families. With so many families today that don't fit the mom/dad/child stereotype, there is certainly a large potential audience for the book. The illustrations are colorful but somewhat dark throughout, and the author clearly received an ego stroke when the illustrator chose to portray her face so clearly as one of the main characters.
Overall, this book fails in what appears to be its primary goal: To be a resource for children of non-traditional families and to show the value of all families, whatever their makeup.