By: Amber Leventry
The author and founder of Pigeonhole Books is on a mission. A.S. Chung is using picture books, a gentle tone, and clear but subtle language to help children understand life’s challenges. Using three different book series under the Pigeonhole name, Chung tackles and celebrates topics specific to divorce, same-sex couples and families, and families which are blended and multicultural. The series are called A Banana Split Story, A Pocketful of Pride, and A Kaleidoscope Tale. Chung’s second book is called Wishful Wedding, the first book in the A Pocketful of Pride series.
Wishful Wedding opens with a little girl excitedly getting ready for her aunt’s wedding. But even with the joy and love she feels on the big day, she notices her Papa’s face as he watches his sister get married. The little girl has a Papa and a Dad. “I also saw sadness, maybe a tear. I wish everyone would rid of their fear.” Gay marriage is not allowed where the little girl lives, and for her, a wedding for her parents is only a wish.
Author A.S. Chung lives in Australia, where Prime Minister Tony Abbott does not support gay marriage. Much like the fight in the United States, politics and fear stand in the way of equality. Sadly, this is the case in much of the world. We are the now part of the fortunate few countries where gay marriage is legal. But we should not feel so complacent to not continue to believe work needs to be done all over the world, as well as on our own soil. Legality does not always motivate acceptance.
When I asked Chung about this topic, she had this to say: “Slavery was abolished in 1865 and yet we continue to read the likes of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Huckleberry Finn, 150 years on. Of course, they are literary masterpieces but it reminds me I live a privileged life. We still make movies in modern day. 12 Years a Slave won the Best Picture Oscar. I think you get my motive. Legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. should not deter this book from thriving. We must remind our children what it once was.”
And we must give our children the opportunity to see themselves in books, whether their parents are able to get married or not. When I read the book to my four year old daughter, I was thrilled to reminder her that her mamas could get married. But we also used the book to talk about how that wasn’t always the case, and it may never be the case for other little girls and boys. We then had a pretty lively conversation about what marriage meant. We both agreed that commitments made and loved shared between two people should be celebrated between two men or two women too.
A.S. Chung also said, “At the end of the day, I don’t really write original, fictional stories—just putting life experiences in a book with beautiful artwork.”
Her first published book was A Brand New Day, a story which shows the good that can come out of sharing time between two houses and two parents after divorce. Other books in the works include, Party Parade and It’s A Boy. Party Parade is about two moms taking their son to the Sydney Mari Gras parade for the first time; It’s A Boy is about two dads and their son who rush to the hospital when their second son and little brother is about to be born through surrogacy. Both will be part of the A Pocketful of Pride series.
As we wait for Chung’s newest creations, consider Wishful Wedding. It is gorgeously illustrated by Paula Bossio and is written with rhyming text. The story feels like a poem spread out over many pages, but with a smooth and light cadence. The rhyming does not stand in the way of the message, “I must believe we can all find a way. I have faith this will happen someday.”
I do too, sweet girl.