Lesbian Review of Books
Heather Has Two Mommiesby Lesléa Newman, Diana Souza
Originally self-published in 1989, Heather Has Two Mommies became the first title in Alyson's newly formed Alyson Wonderland imprint in 1990. The simple and straightforward story of a little girl named Heather and her two lesbian mothers was created by Newman and illustrator Diana Souza because children's books that reflected a nontraditional family did not exist, but a firestorm of controversy soon ensued. Attacked by the religious right, lambasted by Jesse Helms from the floor of the U.S Senate, and stolen from library shelves, it was an uphill battle for Heather. Thanks to the overwhelming support of booksellers, librarians, parents, and children, however, Heather Has Two Mommies has sold over 35,000 copies, launched a minor industry in providing books for the children of gay and lesbian parents and, as attested to by a recent New Yorker cartoon, become part of the cultural lexicon.
Lesbian Review of Books
The author’s text is simple yet powerful in its ability to move readers of all ages. Cornell’s fluid watercolor and gouache illustrations breathe life into this delightful story. Each page is artfully and distinctly rendered to be a visual depiction of the beauty and joy of diversity.... Readers will be warmed by this glimpse into Heather’s family, whether revisiting the text or experiencing it for the first time.
—School Library Journal
The details are different, but the nontraditional-ness is held in common.
—The Horn Book
Though a quarter of a century has passed, the book holds up well. With new illustrations and a slightly revised text, it remains a charming, sweet-spirited story that still fills a need...Newman and her new illustrator Cornell deserve kudos for bringing fresh life to this standard title.
PreS-Gr 2—This is a new edition of the now classic picture book, first published in 1989. The story opens with descriptions of Heather playing with toys in the tall grass behind her house. The child has two of many things including arms, legs, feet, and elbows. "Heather has two pets: a ginger-colored cat named Gingersnap and a big black dog named Midnight. Heather also has two mommies: Mama Jane and Mama Kate." As Heather enters school for the first time she observes that many of the students in her classroom have unique families. To illustrate, Ms. Molly asks the children to draw pictures of their families. Each drawing displays the differences found within each household, yet as Heather's teacher comments, "The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other." The author's text is simple yet powerful in its ability to move readers of all ages. Cornell's fluid watercolor and gouache illustrations breathe life into this delightful story. Each page is artfully and distinctly rendered to be a visual depiction of the beauty and joy of diversity. VERDICT Readers will be warmed by this glimpse into Heather's family, whether revisiting the text or experiencing it for the first time.—Claire Moore, Darien Library, CT
Heather has two mommies—and a new look!Newman's picture book about Heather and her mommies first appeared 25 years ago as the product of desktop publishing and a determination to create a story reflecting family diversity. This updated version includes new illustrations by the commercially successful Cornell, which supply humor and avoid lesbian stereotypes that dogged earlier versions. In keeping with prior, small-press revisions, the updated text omits reference to alternative insemination, and the story resists focusing on angst Heather feels over having two mommies. No one teases her or otherwise makes a big deal of her particular family's configuration. Instead, validation is the order of the day, and when a circle-time conversation about families arises on the first day of school, Heather's teacher has her pupils draw family pictures. Although Heather is initially worried that she might be the only child without a daddy, the artwork reveals diverse family constellations—one child has two daddies, one has a mom, a dad and a stepfather, some have siblings, one depicts a grandmother and pets. "Each family is special," Ms. Molly affirms. "The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other." When Heather's mommies pick her up at school, they delight in seeing her picture. Welcome back to Heather and her mommies. (Picture book. 3-6)
Meet the Author
Lesléa Newman is the author of more than sixty books for children and adults, including October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard. A former poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, she lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Laura Cornell has illustrated many books for children, including the best-selling picture books by Jamie Lee Curtis. She lives in New York City.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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An excellent ground breaking book. A must read for anyone that wants to teach their children the beauty of diversity.
As a lesbian mother of four this book helped me try to explain to my five year old how come she has two mommies. we need more books like this
This picture-storybook tells a three-part story. First, it tells how Heather's two mommies met, fell in love, and moved in together. Then there is a fairly detailed section about Heather's conception and birth. Finally there is a section that describes different kinds of families. You'll have to supply some anatomical and reproductive information to your child. The book assumes that a child would already be puzzled about how Heather got here without a father's help. Leslea Newman certainly thinks children ought to have much more information much earlier than I did, and I think that's good. The first and last parts are unquestionably good and worthwhile.
I do think this is a well-written book at all. I have no problem with it adressing the issue of a lesbian relationship- if you want to teach your kids about that, go for it. But keep in mind that it is a children's book, and because of that, it should be a relatively simple book. This book not only addressed and discussed the lesbian relationship, but also artificial insemination, 'tender breasts,' and even went into detail about the lives of Heather's friends. A children's book should focus on one or two topics and stick with them, not jump about and cover everything, and especially not in vitro fertilization. I do not recommend this book for reading to children.