Book review: Stella Brings the Family, by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown

Schiffer, Miriam B. Stella Brings the Family. Illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown. Chronicle Books, 2015. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9781452111902 Ages 4-6. P8Q8

Schiffer Stella Brings the FamilyStella’s teacher announces a surprise for the class—a special Mother’s Day celebration to which each child may invite one special person. This causes Stella a great deal of worry. Although she has her Papa and her Daddy to help with homework and tuck her in at night, Stella has no mother. After much thought, Stella invites not only her two fathers, but her extended family as well. After the party, Stella assures her teacher that she will only bring one guest to celebrate Father’s Day.  Overhearing this, Howie, one of Stella’s classmates, begins to worry because he has two mothers, but no father.   Simple illustrations focus the story on the characters, often with background details merely penciled in. At the same time, the illustrations quietly bring to light a multicultural classroom.

This low-key story reflects a time in a child’s life when she begins to notice that her own family is not the same as her classmates’ families. When a classroom assignment or announcement assumes that all families are the same, with both a mother and a father, it can cause distress for those children whose families do not match the assumptions. This book reflects not only students with two fathers or two mothers, but the illustrations show many family constellations, including one child living with a grandmother while the mother is in the military. Highly recommended for preschool, elementary and public library collections.

October 2015 review by Jane Cothron.

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