A Family Is a Family Is a Family

by Sara O'Leary (Author) Qin Leng (Illustrator)

A Family Is a Family Is a Family
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways -- but the same in the one way that matters most of all. One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of stepsiblings, and another has a new baby. As one by one, her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them -- family of every shape, size and every kind of relation -- the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special. A warm and whimsical look at many types of families written by award-winning author Sara O'Leary, A Family is a Family springs to life with quirky and sweet illustrations by Qin Leng.
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Kirkus Reviews Fall Preview

Starred Review
"The broad diversity of family constellations is refreshing . . . A-plus fabulous." -- Kirkus, starred review

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

When the question of what makes one's family "special" comes up in the classroom, O'Leary's (This Is Sadie) young narrator blushes and looks down in shame. "My family is not like everybody else's," she thinks. Then her classmates take turns talking about their own families, and the differences among them are both marked and wonderful. One boy notes, "I have more grandparents than anybody else I know." Another child explains, "There are lots of kids in our family. Mom and Dad just keep coming home with more." There's a joint-custody family, an adoptive family, a blended family, and multicultural families; there are families led by gay couples and by grandparents. By the time the narrator reveals that she's a foster child, she has realized that difference is an essential part of what makes a family a family. Leng's (Happy Birthday, Alice Babette) drawings of domestic life are, like O'Leary's writing, winsome but never sentimental. Together they offer a straightforward, optimistic view of everyday modern life. Ages 4-7. Author's agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator's agency: Shannon Associates. (Sept.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 2--A classroom of young children are asked to consider what makes families special. The narrator, a student whose head is hanging low, is nervous about answering, because she feels her family is too different from everyone else's. One by one, the students share, in intricate spreads, what makes their families unique. One student says that her mom and dad keep coming home with more children, another declares that both her moms are terrible singers, another mentions that she lives with her grandmother, and "fair's fair" for a child who stays with her mom one week and her father the next. After listening to all the students, the young narrator recalls a time in the park when her foster mother was asked to point out her real children. Her answer: "Oh, I don't have any imaginary children.... All my children are real." In this warm, nondiscriminating narrative, O'Leary removes limiting definitions and labels like "adopted," "fostered," or "divorced" and instead presents a tale that is innocent and wise. Leng's ink and digitally rendered watercolor illustrations are light and airy and complement the text by capturing the thoughts and purity of a child's perspective. The classroom is a beautiful blend of children of different races, genders, and body types. VERDICT Parents, caregivers, and educators will appreciate the message that this story offers for one-on-one sharing and for discussion with small groups. A sweet and tender tale that shows that families are composed of love regardless of how they may be configured.--Brianne Colombo, Pequannock Township Public Library, NJ

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

USBBY's Outstanding International Books List

A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
"The broad diversity of family constellations is refreshing . . . A-plus fabulous." — Kirkus, starred review

"Leng's drawings of domestic life are, like O'Leary's writing, winsome but never sentimental. Together they offer a straightforward, optimistic view of everyday modern life." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A sweet and tender tale that shows that families are composed of love regardless of how they may be configured." — School Library Journal, starred review
Sara O'Leary
SARA O'LEARY is a writer of fiction for both adults and children. She is the author of the award-winning series of Henry books: When You Were Small, Where You Came From, and When I Was Small, all illustrated by Julie Morstad. A graduate of the University of British Columbia Creative Writing Program, she has taught screenwriting and writing for children at Concordia University, in Montreal. Sara was named for a grandmother who was called Sadie all her life. She is happy to have a child to name after her. Find her on Twitter at @saraoleary.

JACOB GRANT makes absurd and heartfelt picture books, including Cat Knit, Little Bird's Bad Word, and Scaredy Kate. He can almost always be found at his home studio, drawing, painting, and writing until something feels story-ish. He lives with his wife and son in windy Illinois. Find out more at jacobgrantbooks.com.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781554987948
Lexile Measure
500
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
Groundwood Books
Publication date
September 01, 2016
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
Library of Congress categories
-

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