ASHA'S MUMS by Elwin and Paulse is the story of a little girl, who is told by her teacher to have her field trip permission slip which was signed by her two mums re-done "correctly." While there is a bit of a mystery about what "correct" exactly means, the teacher blatantly tells Asha she can't have two mums, and if the form is not filled out correctly, she cannot go on the trip. Clearly Asha is devastated because she believes she, her brother, and her two mums are a family, and she wants to go on the trip. The next day, Asha tries to explain her family. This provokes discussion among the children abut whether or not a child can have two mums. One child says her parents told her that having two mothers living together is bad. While the class is in gym, Asha's mums have a talk with the teacher to clarify their family structure. Asha is able to go on the trip and the other children are informed that both of her mums are important to her. This books makes an important statement: children from gay- and lesbian-headed households do not always make distinctions between their parents such as the "real" mother or father. Parents are frequently distinguished most commonly by names, such as "Mama" and Mom" or "Papa" and "Daddy."
ASHA'S MUMS is one of a few books which raises the issue of children's families not being accepted or represented in the classroom. It also highlights the difficulties children of gay and lesbian families encounter when their parents have not disclosed their family structure to the school or teacher. Some readers may feel a little uneasy that it was initially left up to Asha and some of her friends to defend and explain her family structure. Still, this may very well be the reality for some children from gay- and lesbian-headed families, especially as parents are not yet aware of the need to explain their family until a "crisis" occurs.
The wonderful illustrations add to the beauty of the story. They portray Black, Asian, Latino/a and European-American children. This story works well with a discussion on exclusion, acceptance and diverse family structures.