Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Tale of Two Mommies/A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

I downloaded these books from NetGalley because I'm always looking for books featuring "alternative lifestyles" (for want of an alternative phrase) and the illustrations looked particularly cute. I'm featuring the two books together because they're pretty similar.

A Tale of Two Daddies starts with a little boy asking a little girl about her two dads. She tells him that she has a Poppa and a Daddy and he goes on to ask her which of her dads does certain things for her.

"Who's your dad when your hair needs braids? Who's your dad when you're afraid?"

"Poppa's the one when I need braids. Daddy is there when I'm afraid."

The book continues in this vein. Sometimes the answer is both daddies and sometimes the little girl can do things herself. I particularly like the ending: "Who is your dad when you're sad and need some love?" "Both, of course."

A Tale of Two Mommies begins with the question: "If you have a momma and a mommy, who fixes things when they break?" which immediately made me indignant, but I imagine it's pretty true to life, since gender roles are so ingrained in society and I appreciate that both of these books challenge that (for example, one of the daddies bakes, one of the mommies takes the little boy fishing).

The weakness of these books is that they're more about introducing the issue of same sex parents and less about a readable text. Some of the rhymes are a bit laboured, some don't scan so well and the ending of A Tale of Two Mommies is a bit sudden and unsatisfying, but this is actually more than made up for by the glorious illustrations. There's an explanation of how they were made in the back of each book and they're just beautiful. There's more than one that I'd like framed. This one may be my favourite, but it's hard to choose:

Niggles aside, these books are a charming and simple introduction to the idea of same sex parents for younger children.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Whatever by William Bee

I picked this one up in the library because of the bright cover and then realised that it's basically a modern update of one of my old favourites: Pierre (who only would say "I don't care!") by Maurice Sendak.

No matter what Billy's dad shows him, Billy's only response is "...whatever." Something very tall, something very small, the world's bounciest castle, or steamiest train - "...whatever." Even a trip in a rocket to the edge of outer space fails to impress Billy.

And then his dad shows him the world's hungriest tiger... with inevitable (and Pierre-esque) results. The ending of Whatever is darker than that of Pierre and it made my children laugh, whereas they seem unconvinced by Pierre - for whom being eaten by a lion teaches him that he does indeed care. (Even I find myself thinking "Yeah, Pierre. But for how long?")