Posted by: Erica Gillingham | February 2, 2012

Mommy, Mama, Daddy, Papa

Daddy, Papa and Me;  Mommy, Mama, and Me

Leslea Newman and Carol Thompson, New York: Tricycle Press, ISBN 978-1-58246-262-2/978-1-58246-263-9, $7.99, 2009.

It’s the beginning of February and that means the start of LGBT History Month in the UK! For those that know a bit about me, putting the two subjects of LGBT history and children’s literature is no small stretch. So today I thought I’d share my all-time favourite board books: Mommy, Mama and Me and Daddy, Papa and Me by Leslea Newman and Carol Thompson.

First of all, Mommy, Mama, and Me is told from the perspective of the child as s/he goes through their daily activities–being picked up, going to the playground, helping Mommy, reading with Mama, and bath time–until bedtime when the child is tucked in and kissed goodnight. Daddy, Papa, and Me begins with the child asking ‘”Who will play with me today?'” of Daddy and Papa. The board book depicts their subsequent adventures and activities around the house and in the park until Daddy and Papa are the ones tuckered out now and kissed goodnight by the child. Both board books are told in rhyming couplets on each double page spread and beautifully illustrated by Thompson using mixed media but primarily watercolours.

What stands out in each of these board books is that while the titles and adult characters make it apparent to the reader that these families have a same-sex couple at the helm, the books take no explicit issue with homosexuality, gay marriage or difference. These are not the ‘issue books’ that first came into the market for gay and lesbian parents in the 80s and 90s. There is no overt attempt to make sure the reader understands that these families are just like all the other families at pre-school or nursery.

Instead, the inherent message that these families are OK–more than OK, really, they are loving,  caring, supportive families–comes across because the implied readers for these board books are families with two moms or two dads. As the text is narrated by the child, there is no questioning of the parents’ role in their young lives. Thus, the reader gets to be alongside the fictional child as they play with Mommy & Mama or Daddy & Papa. In this way, the board books becomes the child reader’s own board book, in so far as a book has the capacity to reflect the child reader’s family as accurate as it could hope to be.

I highly recommend this for anyone who has a Mommy & Mama or Daddy & Papa in their families, no matter what age.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: