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IN OUR MOTHERS’ HOUSE by Patricia Polacco

IN OUR MOTHERS’ HOUSE

By Patricia Polacco

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-25076-7
Publisher: Philomel

The placement of the title’s possessive apostrophe here is no typo: Two mothers own this house, and they have filled it with lots of love. Unfortunately, while this ambitious picture book seeks to offer an inclusive vision of family, it ultimately comes up short. Meema and Marmee’s eldest daughter offers a sweeping narrative about three children embraced by their loving, interracial, adoptive family and multicultural community, with their “mothers’ house” at the center of it all. It is outside of this safe haven that the children face overt and neatly contained homophobia in the character of one bad apple, who declares, “I don’t appreciate what you two are!” The distillation of hate into a single character undermines the reality of systematic oppression faced by same-sex couples; furthermore, the flash-forward narration depicting each child grown and married into heterosexual, monoracial unions ironically presents this family as an anomaly. There is a desperate need for books that present queer families as just another part of the American quilt, but this title, despite its obvious good intentions, doesn’t do it. (Picture book. 6-8)