Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Daddies, by Vanita Oelschlager (illustrated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc)

A Tale of Two Daddies
Author: Vanita Oelschlager
Illustrators: Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc
Publisher: VanitaBooks
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
This is a simple story about a little girl with two daddies: Daddy and Poppa. When a boy on the playground asks her what it's like having two dads, he wants to know things like "Who tucks you in at night? Which one helps with homework? Which one braids your hair?" The little girl happily explains which of her day-to-day activities are best performed by Daddy, Poppa or both (or, in the case of staying up late or helping her match her socks, neither). The little girl's life is happy, secure and, of course, completely normal. 

I particularly liked that the illustrations were very reminiscent of primers from the 1950's. Normally I'm not a fan of children's book illustrations that look too dated, but in this case I think it's good for the story. It references an idealistic vision of Americana with nuclear families and houses in the suburbs (both children look like they could have stepped right out of Family Circus or Dick and Jane) and subtly reinforces the message that families with same-sex parents fit in perfectly well with this ideal, thank-you very much. I also liked that it wasn't focusing on her not having a mommy, but on how great it was to have two parents who loved her and were each good at different things.

I read this book with my three-year-old daughter Magda, who lives with her mother and father (that's me! and her dad!) but who understands that different families have different dynamics. The thing she liked most about it? Thinking about which parent was best at which things. She liked that the little girl in the story was loved and had people looking out for her. Then she proceeded to rattle off all of the things that she needs help with and which parent usually helps her (Daddy takes me grocery shopping, Mommy takes me swimming, Daddy usually gives me a bath, Mommy makes my lunch, both Mommy and Daddy tuck me in at night, Mommy is better at braids...).

Ultimately, the appeal of this book isn't just the "message" that some kids have two dads (or two moms, or just a mom, or a dad and a stepmom, or whatever). The appeal of this book is that it lets children think about all the ways in which they are loved and cared for, by whomever is in their family. Well done!

Magda's Take:
"I like how the little girl knew who to go to for everything, like if she needed a bandaid or if she needed braids. It's good to have people to do things for you. Mommy's better at braids, but Daddy usually makes me breakfast. And you both get me bandaids."

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Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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