Uncle Bobby's Wedding Hardcover – Apr 1 2008
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Written from Chloe's perspective, Uncle Bobby deftly expresses a young child's concerns about family relationships and change. It stresses the power of love to encompass both old and new. Brannen's rich watercolor drawings match the tranquil but sometimes playful tone of the text.
The book's great strength is that Jamie's gender is a non-issue throughout. Unlike many older LGBT-themed children's books, such as Heather Has Two Mommies, it doesn't focus on a child struggling against negative views of her family. That approach has value for some, but Uncle Bobby indicates it is now possible to present a same-sex relationship without the need to defend it or compare it, however favorably, with a heterosexual norm. (Even the excellent And Tango Makes Three contrasts the same-sex penguin pair with the usual opposite-sex couples.) This leaves Brannen free to concentrate on her other themes, and opens up the book to a wider audience.
The book will likely be criticized by some for "promoting" same-sex marriage, but in reality it is as sweet and inoffensive a children's book as one could ever hope to find. It shows two men (well, male guinea pigs) getting married, but never preaches. Highly recommended.
It's a nice book that gives kids a chance to discuss same-sex relationships at home before they go to school and encounter classmates who have a different assortment of parents than they do. Whether one is for or against same-sex relationships, they are a fact of life. Kids will be more comfortable knowing they exist rather than being surprised by their new friends' two moms or dads. And of course, the child who has two moms or dads will be happy to find a book that relates to his or her life.
The illustrations are a delight. Sarah Brannen is an accomplished artist, and I pored over the pictures, noticing the subtle ways that young guinea pigs are drawn differently from the more sedate adult guinea pigs. You really enter Chloe's world and see the wonder of things from her perspective. This is a book to treasure!
Oh yeah, Uncle Bobby is gay. That this is a "by the way" part of the story is one example of how well-crafted this book is. Another example is how all family and friends are delighted about the marriage and welcoming to Jamie--well, isn't that what happens when people get married? Chloe's mother says it best: "When two grown-ups love each other that much, they want to get married." Simply, that's just the way it is.
The illustrations are wonderful--detailed yet simple, soft yet exciting, absolutely charming and warm and full of life. And the wedding reception at the end looks like such a GREAT party that I wish I could join in! Sarah S. Brannen's illustrations are terrific and her writing delightful--she really lets us into Chloe's world. I can't wait to see what Ms. Brannen brings us next!
Chloe has so much trouble thinking about relinquishing Uncle Bobby's attention to his partner Jamie, she's nearly as obnoxious as Mini Mia in Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle. She's a marvel of self-centeredness, yet her uncle is as patient and sweet as Mia's Uncle Tommy. (oh, for such indulgent, loving uncles of our own.)
As they talk about her concern and continue to be close and do interesting things together, Chloe finds she is still included in Uncle Bobby's life and will be welcome in his new family as well. She even gets to be flower girl and choose carrot cake for the wedding. Having two uncles turns out to be a fine idea, and Chloe not only thinks Uncle Bobby's wedding was the best ever, she brags that she "planned it all from the beginning."
This engaging story with easy language and appealing Illustrations of cuddly characters is satisfying to share with children around three years old.
The row boat and sail boat outings should show life jackets being worn, but otherwise, this book is terrific.
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