cover image MOLLY'S FAMILY


Nancy Garden, , illus. by Sharon Wooding. . FSG, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35002-4

In Garden's (Annie on My Mind ) quietly insightful book, questions about same-sex parenting arise when Molly draws a family portrait for her kindergarten open house. "First she drew Mommy. Then she drew Mama Lu. And then she drew Sam, her puppy." When Tommy sees Molly's picture, he challenges it: "You can't have a mommy and a mama." Soon the other children gather to offer their input. One has a traditional nuclear family, another lives with his father—but nobody has two mothers. As Molly's body language goes from defiant to anxious, teacher Ms. Marston overhears the debate and sits down to pacify the situation. "Is Mama Lu visiting?... Is she your aunt?" she asks. When Molly answers no, Ms. Marston tells everyone, "It looks to me as if you can have a mommy and a mama." Garden depicts a credible evolution of Molly's feelings. At first, she is shaken and, even after asking her mothers about their relationship that night, she leaves her family portrait at home the next day. Only after reflecting on her parents' love, and noting the "different kinds of families in her very own class," does Molly willingly display her picture again. Wooding, who details the scenes in feathery pencil shading and soft watercolor wash, pictures an everyday classroom and individualizes all the characters. By referring to diverse families and picturing a multicultural classroom, Garden and Wooding suggest that these conversations can take place just about anywhere, in any small town or big city. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)