By Brandy Black
My wife and I have written before about our love of the book Heather Has Two Mommies, so we were more than excited to receive an advance copy of the brand-new, hardcover edition of this modern classic!
Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two pets. She also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, she’s asked about her daddy, and of course, she doesn’t have one. But something special happens on the day Heather and her classmates draw depictions of their own families: not one drawing is the same. And in the teacher’s message the essence of the book is revealed: it doesn’t matter who makes up a family, because “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.”
There are seemingly small things that most people take for granted. For example, among their peers, my three children often only hear references to a “mommy and daddy,” when in fact, their reality is “mom” and “mama”. Heather Has Two Mommies gives my children a representative voice in the conversation. My twins’ little faces lit up when they first learned that Heather has two mommies. Their 7-year-old big sister stopped riding her bike and plopped down next to me to read with them about “Mama Kate” and “Mama Jane.”
Heather Has Two Mommies was first published 25 years ago. My black-and-white paperback copy has been in our home library for several years and has always been a comfort to my children. But when the new version, freshly illustrated by Laura Cornell, showed up at our door, characters like Heather, with her bright purple cowboy boots and pink tutu, and “Midnight”, Heather’s bracelet-laden dog, came to life all over again.
It’s hard to believe that this book was once tinged with controversy. The author of more than 60 books for children and adults, Leslea Newman “had no idea [the book] would ever get published, let alone become one of the most challenged books of the 1990s. ‘Though I have been repeatedly accused of having a militant, political agenda, my goal in writing the book was, simply, to tell a story” (Newman, 2000). Newman was clearly writing ahead of her time and we like-minded parents are grateful for her depiction of families like ours.
And really, what is so controversial about this story? Heather has two moms, plain and simple. The times have changed and will continue to do so, but society needs pioneering voices like Newman’s to reflect life as it really is. Each time a book, article, song, interview, TV show, or commercial reflects or includes families of all kinds, it is not just contributing to equality as a whole, but also providing a sense of belonging to the children of these families.
This vibrant new edition would be a welcome learning tool in any home or classroom. And for families already familiar with the book, this brightly illustrated reinvention allows a beloved classic to be enjoyed all over again.
Heather Has Two Mommies is for ages 3-7 and is available on sale wherever books are sold. It is also available as an ebook.
HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES. Text copyright © 1989, 2000, 2009, 2015 by Leslea Newman. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Laura Cornell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.