By: Amber Leventry
Lesléa Newman has written the book on how to celebrate same-sex parents. Literally. And several times. The award-winning author of Heather Has Two Mommies has seen a lot of change since her groundbreaking and controversial book was published 26 years ago. The children’s book that paved the way for all other children’s books with two moms or two dads has been both banned and coveted; but the book, like the parent reading it to her child, has weathered the equal rights storm to prove once and for all, love always wins.
One of Newman’s newest children’s books, Donovan’s Big Day, is another reflection of LGBTQ families. But Donovan doesn’t just have two mommies, he has two mommies who are about to be married. He is the modern day version of Heather. While Heather was trying to find other families who were like hers and comfort in a world where the only narrative was that of mommy and daddy families, Donovan is trying to keep his tuxedo clean and his moms’ wedding rings safe inside of his jacket pocket.
Lesléa Newman has never shied away from writing about the tough topics that can affect parents and children. She has covered religion, AIDS, adoption, divorce, and gender stereotypes with finesse and tenderness. She has been the go-to source for LGBTQ parents when we need a book to read to our children to show them that, yes, there are families like ours out there. Yes, there is someone who understands how important it is to showcase to the world the love we have in our homes.
But while she has consistently written LGBTQ themed children’s stories that reflect the reality of life with two moms or two dads, Donovan’s Big Day feels even more poignant now that gay marriage is a reality found beyond the pages of a fictional book. Told from Donovan’s point of view, the book starts as he remembers it is a big day and he has a big job to do. He is the ring bearer for his mommy and mama’s wedding.
Before Donovan can do his big job, though, he must get himself out of bed and avoid everyday distractions, messes, and delays all kids can understand. He needs to stay clean, wrinkle-free, polite, and still as he excitedly gets himself ready to walk down the aisle to meet his mothers at the altar.
“He had to walk—not run, not skip, not hop, not leap, not bounce, not dance—down the aisle.”
Donovan’s Big Day is playfully illustrated by Mike Dutton, who seemed to take extra care in drawing the expressions on the faces of Donovan, his moms, and the peripheral characters in the book. The text describes an excited child working hard to show restraint on a big and important day, but the pictures highlight the love, pride, and joy on the faces of friends and family present to support Donovan and his mothers.
“He stood next to both of them without saying a word while they slid the shiny gold rings onto each other’s fingers, looked into each other’s eyes, said mushy things to each other, and smiled and laughed and cried.”
Donovan’s Big Day is not just another Lesléa Newman book. It is another much needed children’s book which shows the diversity of today’s modern families, the families that have always existed but are still slow to be seen in mainstream media. Like Heather Has Two Mommies; Mommy, Mama, and Me; and Daddy, Papa, and Me, this is another Lesléa Newman book that is a big deal in the lives of kids who have same-sex parents, especially with parents who are now legally able to get married.
For a complete list of Newman’s books be sure to check out her website. You will not be disappointed.