Heather Has Two Mommies

Image of Heather Has Two Mommies
Release Date: 
March 24, 2015
Candlewick Press
Reviewed by: 

Times have changed in the quarter century since Lesléa Newman first published Heather Has Two Mommies. Twenty-five years ago Newman could not find a publisher for the book. It did not fit into a neat publishing category. And the book dealt with a subject no one wanted to hear about: nontraditional families and children being raised by lesbians.

Now the story of Heather and her moms has become a classic.

This is a new, revised, and updated edition of the book. Heather still thinks in twos but now she sees that her family is not so unlike those of her classmates. One little girl has a daddy and a papa. Another has a grandma and two puppies. In fact, most of the kids in the book are living in a nontraditional family setting. All of them are fine, and none of them see anything wrong with Heather or her family.

In 1988, the conservative, right wing, ersatz Christians and their ilk vilified Newman’s book. The book was one of the most challenged in the country, and it became a focal point in the brewing culture wars. School districts banned the book, at least one school superintendent lost his job for supporting it, and clergy stole the book from libraries to prevent people from reading it.

Supporters replaced those books the clergy stole while more open-minded people convinced school districts to include the book. Twenty-five years later, Heather Has Two Mommies has become a staple of any legitimate library.

The illustrations are superb, filling the book with a rainbow of color and texture. The text is simple and powerful. It reflects the innocence of children who see potential friends and not differences.

As Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote for the musical South Pacific, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve to be carefully taught.”

This is a warm and gentle view of a little girl starting school, meeting new friends, and discovering a wider world. The kids learn that differences are just another part of life.

And as Ms. Molly says, “Each family is special. The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein were right: You have to be taught.