Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Operation Marriage

Operation Marriage

by Cynthia Chin-Lee, Lea Lyon (Illustrator)

See All Formats & Editions

Set in the San Francisco Bay area months before the passage of Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California, this heartwarming picture book tells the humorous story of two stubborn kids who take matters into their own hands. When Alex loses her best friend in an argument over her family not being “traditional,” she and her younger brother set out to


Set in the San Francisco Bay area months before the passage of Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California, this heartwarming picture book tells the humorous story of two stubborn kids who take matters into their own hands. When Alex loses her best friend in an argument over her family not being “traditional,” she and her younger brother set out to convince their two mothers to have a real wedding. Though their parents are content with the commitment ceremony they had years earlier, their children’s determination prevails and couple is able to become legally married before the proposition takes effect. Their love for each other proves contagious as their neighbors begin to see past their prejudice and accept them for who they have always been: a normal, affectionate family. Based on a true story, this is a touching tale about those who face real challenges in their struggle for equality.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Enid Portnoy
It is not often that young people can read a true story about a family and gay marriage. Chin-Lee writes in a direct and honest manner from the perspective of Alex, a young girl who feels she is losing her friend, whose parents are unwilling to accept anyone who has two mothers. The conflict highlights difficulties some people have when so-called non-traditional families. Children may be caught in the middle and feel unsure about what to do. Alex is puzzled and upset her best friend Zach wants to end their friendship because his parents do not approve of same-sex marriage, such as her two mothers have. Instead of hiding her sadness, Alex works with her brothers to plan an event with the goal of changing negative opinions about same-sex marriage. The question, as Alex views it, is what she can do to help Zach, his parents, and others realize their attitude is hurtful to her whole family. What will happen to Alex’s wish that her two mothers stay together? Can anything she does really change people’s attitudes about gay marriage? These questions and others arise as Alex and her younger brother try to figure out something they can do to help their two mamas. Young readers may have heard of “gay marriage” but this narrative can help them see how some people may need time to accept ideas they consider uncomfortable. It may also help them reflect on their ability to change others’ perspectives. Full-page color drawings feature characters that appear realistic. This story may that can invite discussion about why these children are unhappy, and why Zach’s parents will not allow Zach and Alex to remain friends. Although the story is set in California, neither Proposition 8 nor its legal implications are explored. The last page of the book provides a brief description of the states which have legalized same-sex marriage at the date of publication. (Note: This is already outdated, thanks to Illinois.) This information seems to be included as a long footnote rather than in discussion of legal significance within the story. Although only one family illustrates this contemporary issue in the pages of this story, the book is a welcome addition to children’s literature, providing a personal look at a topic of contemporary significance. Reviewer: Enid Portnoy AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 11.
Kirkus Reviews
Wearing its heart on its sleeve, this message-driven text could attract like-minded readers but is unlikely to engage anyone beyond those already in the gay-marriage-rights choir. When Zach tells Alex he can't be her friend because his dad says her parents aren't really married, Alex seeks to defend her moms' relationship while also fighting against Proposition 8. Alex and her brother Nicky decide to launch "Operation Marriage" to inspire their moms to get married before the proposition's passage, and Mama Kathy and Mama Lee decide to marry in haste. When Alex shares wedding photos at school, even Zach acknowledges her family's special day. After Prop 8 passes a month later, Zach and his mother (she's not homophobic like his dad) show up with a plate of cookies to offer apologies and support. All's well that ends well, with homophobia neatly situated in one mean character who stands for all who voted to overturn equal marriage rights in California. Watercolor portraits of the characters do little to extend the story, instead documenting the characters and their struggle. More editorial more than story, this title will situate itself as part of the early-21st-century movement toward same-sex marriage rights. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

PM Press
Publication date:
Reach and Teach
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
5 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt

Operation Marriage

By Cynthia Chin-Lee, Lea Lyon

PM Press

Copyright © 2011 Cynthia Chin-Lee and Lea Lyon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60486-625-4


After school my best friend Zach said to me, "We can't be best friends anymore."

"Why not?"

"It's your parents, Alex.

They're ... they're not really married."

"Of course they're married," I said. My face got red hot.

"No, they're not. My dad says two women can't be married."

He dashed away.

I was so mad I felt like punching someone.

I got my little brother Nicky and we walked home.

When we arrived, I told Mama Kathy what happened.

She hugged me, but I didn't feel like hugging back.

Nicky told her. "We want you to get married to Mama Lee!"

"But Mama Lee and I are married," she said.

"But Zach's family doesn't think so," I said.

"You're right," Mama Kathy said. "We had a commitment ceremony, but we couldn't get a marriage license back then."

"So you're not really married?" I asked.

"Well, no, but we've done everything possible to have the same rights as married people. You know that I've adopted both of you."

Mama Lee came home from work and heard what happened.

"Let's get out the videos."

She and Mama Kathy dug through the trunks in the attic and got the video of their commitment ceremony.


Excerpted from Operation Marriage by Cynthia Chin-Lee, Lea Lyon. Copyright © 2011 Cynthia Chin-Lee and Lea Lyon. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Cynthia Chin-Lee is the author of A Is for the Americas, A Is for Asia, Akira to Zoltan, and Amelia to Zora. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Lea Lyon is an award-winning children's book illustrator, a painting teacher, and a portrait artist. She is the illustrator of Keep Your Ear on the Ball, The Miracle Jar, Playing War, and Say Something. She lives in Richmond, California.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews