A Family Is a Family Is a Family

Sara O’Leary, illus. by Qin Leng. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-794-8
When the question of what makes one’s family “special” comes up in the classroom, O’Leary’s (This Is Sadie) young narrator blushes and looks down in shame. “My family is not like everybody else’s,” she thinks. Then her classmates take turns talking about their own families, and the differences among them are both marked and wonderful. One boy notes, “I have more grandparents than anybody else I know.” Another child explains, “There are lots of kids in our family. Mom and Dad just keep coming home with more.” There’s a joint-custody family, an adoptive family, a blended family, and multicultural families; there are families led by gay couples and by grandparents. By the time the narrator reveals that she’s a foster child, she has realized that difference is an essential part of what makes a family a family. Leng’s (Happy Birthday, Alice Babette) drawings of domestic life are, like O’Leary’s writing, winsome but never sentimental. Together they offer a straightforward, optimistic view of everyday modern life. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
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