Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book News: A Family is a Family is a Family

Publish October 28, 2016

When her teacher asks her class to share what makes their families special, one girl fears her family is not like the others. One by one the students answer, and she shrinks back, unsure of what to say.  In A Family is a Family is a Family, award-winning author of This is Sadie, Sarah O’Leary, and 2014 Governor General’s Literary award finalist for illustration, Qin Ling, bring us a snapshot of diverse and special families. O’Leary opens a window into the family life of thirteen kids in this picture book, the last one being the young girl who feels like the odd one out. But by exploring many kinds of families, it becomes clear that this is far from true. Over thirteen double-page spreads, kids will see one to two-parent homes, families with one or many children, same-sex parents, disabled parents, multi-ethnic families, blended families, foster families, and families with special living arrangements like living with a grandparent or with a different parent on alternating weeks. Chances are kids will find their family represented here. Leng’s ink on paper and digitally painted illustrations add visual interest by including quirky details like children hiding in cupboards, dogs howling along to music, and even the imagined journey of a baby who appears out of nowhere, but was likely adopted. The final double-page spread includes each child’s family portrait, offering a chance for reflection and review. A Family is a Family is a Family is an inclusive portrayal of healthy, vibrant families, just right for kids who are beginning to see how their family fits in to the wider world.

A Family is a Family is a Family

Sara O’Leary
Illustration EN: Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-55498-794-8

Jen Bailey
Jen Bailey Jen Bailey is an Ontario-certified teacher who holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She works for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Jen’s other book reviews have appeared in Quill & Quire and Canadian Children’s Book News.

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