Two Moms, the Zark, and Me

Johnny Valentine, Author, Angelo Lopez, Illustrator
Johnny Valentine, Author, Angelo Lopez, Illustrator Alyson Books $12.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55583-236-0
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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This seriously flawed picture book blunders through a sensitive issue--the rights of homosexual parents. A boy is taken to the park by his ``two moms,'' wanders over to the zoo where he meets a Zark (a sort of brontosaurus), discovers he's lost, and is picked up by Mr. and Mrs. McFink--ultraconservatives who go ballistic over his family's domestic arrangements: ``It's wrong! It's a sin! Not at all how I think! / The only true family's a family like ours: / With a mom, and a dad, and two kids, and two cars.'' At last the Zark intervenes, routing the McFinks and reuniting the boy with his parents. Valentine's rhyming text is uneven and, highlighting as it does one of childhood's worst fears--being lost--has a nightmarish quality that's exacerbated by the weird proportions and skewed perspectives of Lopez's cartoonish illustrations. Lopez pictures McFink as a Jesse Helms lookalike, and just in case readers don't understand how rotten he and his wife really are (which would be difficult, given their perpetually nasty expressions), the McFinks are initially shown brandishing sharp instruments--although just exactly what they're doing at the zoo with an evil-looking nail file and a potato peeler is never explained. All in all, it's a mean-spirited, sniping approach to a topic that deserves thoughtful treatment. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)
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