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Donovan's Big Day (2011)

Written by Leslea Newman

Illustrated by Mike Dutton

Gouache with Digital Finish

Typeset in Advert and Franklin Gothic

Tricycle Press

As with many books dealing with same-sex relationships and marriage in recent years, the same-sex aspect of the story does not enter into the narrative in a significant way, but seems more a part of the backdrop. In fact, it is not until the final pages in which we learn that the marriage in question involves "mommy" and "mama."

This is a contrast with Newman's famous take on same-sex relationships in Heather Has Two Mommies - in which the question of gender was the source of some angst. Heather Has Two Mommies was a question. Donovan's Big Day is a celebration.

Every character appears to be heady with excitement and anticipation, not the least of which is Donovan himself, the young child of the two mothers, maneuvering his way through their busy world of grown-up responsibilities and wedding-day preparations, mentally cataloging his epic quest every step of the way in a series of bouncing run-on sentences:

He had to be the first one to hop off his seat, scramble out of the car, scurry up some steps, hurry through a large, sunlit lobby, and dash into a loud, crowded room full of hundreds of grown-ups all dressed up in their very best clothes and he had to say hello to every single one of them while they shook his hand, gave him a hug, kissed his cheek, and told him how very handsome he looked on this very BIG day.

The entire book is composed in this frenetic style, and I love phrases like, "hundreds of grown-ups," which gives the proceedings the feel that this is an alien terrain through which young Donovan - and all children, after a fashion - must journey. The ways of grown-ups are not his ways, and so it is imperative that he memorize and go through such a long list of responsibilities, in the pursuit of this, this happiest of all occasions, "when the tall grown-up in the long, black robe said, 'I now pronounce you wife and wife."

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