Here are two stories of the classic family adventure type, but featuring same-sex parents. Both of them also have families formed by adoption, so adopted kids with many kinds of parents could see themselves reflected in these books.
Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. Delacorte Press, 2014.
Dad, a high school teacher, and Papa, a work-at-home inventor, have a crew of four adopted boys, each with their own interests and challenges. Twelve-year-old Sam is interested in soccer and his phone. Ten-year-old Jax is struggling with a school assignment to interview a veteran, while his best friend Henry is being pulled away from him by new and annoying interests in girls and fashion. Eli, also ten, has decided that he wants more academic challenge and has finally gotten his wish of attending an expensive private school. Frog, age 6, has started kindergarten and comes home talking about a friend, Ladybug, who has two moms. But is Ladybug real or more like his invisible cheetah? All these boys plus a couple of dogs adds up to one lively family – but grouchy Mr. Nelson next door is determined to keep everything quiet. Can they find a way to be themselves and good neighbors? The adventures of the Family Fletcher continue in The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island, while that “imaginary” two-mom family stars in This Would Make a Good Story Someday.
Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue. Read by
This one is especially exciting to me because my kids have many, many classmates with two moms and none with two dads – but until now, the few children’s books with same-sex parents have been mostly about two-dad families. Long ago, two committed men and two committed women won the lottery, bought a very large house in Toronto, which they named Camelottery. Over the course of several years, PopCorn and PapaDum, CardaMom and Maximum adopted seven children together. It’s a loving, quirky family, committed to experiential learning and making the world a better place. We see it all through the eyes of 9-year-old Sumac Lottery. Life is running in the sort of happy chaos that one would expect from such a situation, when PopCorn’s estranged father, Grumps, suddenly needs to move in with them. No one is happy with the situation – not Grumps, and not Sumac, who has to give up her beloved bedroom so that Grumps can sleep on the main floor. All the characters have multiple aspects – different ethnic backgrounds, mental issues, and interests. Some on-line reviewers found this excessively PC but I found it a refreshing break from fictional characters who are allowed no more than one or two variations from the theoretical blank of white male. My biggest problem was that the four-year-old, who announced over a year ago that his name was now Brian and not Briar and gets angry when called a girl, was consistently referred to as “she”. This made me twitch every time it came up in the audiobook, though an adult reading it aloud could easily edit on the fly. This is an exuberant, present-tense story where the many individual quirks and quests tie into a moving whole.