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The Great Big Book of Families
     

The Great Big Book of Families

by Mary Hoffman, Ros Asquith (Illustrator)
 

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This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith's humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and

Overview

This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith's humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and again. A celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over, The Great Big Book of Families is a great big treat for every family to share.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In matter-of-fact prose and genial pen-and-ink drawings, Hoffman and Asquith reassure readers about something they may already know intuitively: there's no one right way to be a family. What sets their survey of familyhood apart in this growing genre is the collaborators' expansive take on demographics. They cover not only a wide range of parental and domestic arrangements, but also schooling, homes, consumerism, employment—or lack of it—and psychographics ("In some families everyone shares their feelings.... Sometimes not everyone in the family feels the same way about things"). Asquith's spreads have a lively, encyclopedic feel, with whimsical themed borders (variously clad feet march across the top of the "Transportation" section), occasional asides to the audience ("Is a teddy a pet?" a toy bear wonders), and a recurring cat character adding to the visual fun. "amilies can be big, small, happy, sad, rich, poor, loud, quiet, mad, good-tempered, worried, or happy-go-lucky," writes Hoffman in her wrapup. "Most families are all of these things some of time." It may not be Tolstoyan wisdom, but it's undeniably true. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Many families are depicted here, "...in all sorts of shapes and sizes." Beyond those children living with "mommy and daddy," there are also those living with just one parent, with grandparents, with "two mommies or two daddies," or adopted or in foster care. We move on to members of the reader's family: brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. Families live in all kinds of homes; some cannot find any. On double pages, Hoffman continues to note the varieties of schools, jobs, holidays and vacations, foods, clothing, pets, celebrations, hobbies, means of transportation, and emotions of different families. Finally, readers are encouraged to make a family tree of their own. Pages are overloaded with visual information presented in cartoon style with water colored drawings adding representational interest and extensive examples. End pages display rows of tiny pictures relating to many of the book's themes. This style continues, bordering each page with scores of objects to embellish the theme of that page. This is all lively, happy, and useful as a resource for the young. To add interest, readers are challenged to find a cat on every page and discover its name. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—With simple language, Hoffman describes almost every imaginable familial configuration, including those with single, same-sex, and foster parents. Asquith expands on the diversity suggested in the text by including mixed-race families and family members with disabilities in her color cartoon illustrations. Hoffman also discusses the differences in jobs, celebrations, clothes, hobbies, and pets found in the various types of homes. As she does so, she alludes to some difficult social issues such as homelessness and unemployment, but suggests that family members help one another through hard times. The artist adds simple clues to make some of these issues accessible to young children. For example, on the page where the parents are unemployed, the child is shown offering a small piggy bank to the concerned mother and father. Although the text is at times serious, the pages are busy and bright, and the format helps the book feel lighthearted and energetic. Todd Parr's The Family Book (Little, Brown, 2003) covers many of the same basic principles but is written for an even younger audience and uses animals to represent different kinds of families. In this book, children are likely to find representation of their own situations, whatever they may be, and assurance that their family is just right.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Kirkus Reviews
A primer on families in words and pictures. "Once upon a time," Hoffman begins, "most families in books looked like this." Asquith's illustration shows Caucasian daddy, mommy, son, daughter, dog and cat, all smiling and standing in a line. In the background is a neat little house with an apple tree, flowers and a white picket fence in front of it. "But in real life, families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes." Hoffman breaks it down with two-page spreads covering various topics: Who's in Your Family, Homes, School, Jobs, Holidays, Food ("Some moms and dads are great cooks...Others prefer to buy ready-made meals. Most families get their food from shops or markets. But some people grow their own") and more. Each spread is bordered by dozens of small illustrations; the spread on School, for example, features school books, varieties of writing utensils, paper and other items. The book ends with a challenge to try and make a family tree and a gallery of more than a dozen families, in framed pictures. "What's yours like today?" Hoffman asks. The text is packed with examples, and the same goes for Asquith's energetic watercolors. They celebrate diversity, not by proselytizing but by simply presenting it. For the very young, it will seem like a colorful reference book. A sublimely simple idea, brilliantly executed.(Picture book. 3-6)
From the Publisher

starred reviews in School Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist; "Thoughtful and joyful" - LoveReading; "a truly multicultural exploration" - School Librarian; 'A charming book that helps children understand and recognise many different types of family units. This book manages to challenge preconceptions while reassuring children of all ages and backgrounds' - Book Nook, Independent on Sunday

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803735163
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
04/14/2011
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
244,111
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 11.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Hoffman has written more than ninety books for children. She lives in rural Oxford, England, with her husband and three Burmese cats.

Ros Asquith has been a cartoonist for the UK Guardian for twenty years. She lives with her family in London.

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