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-Steve Floyd, chief executive officer of August House books

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- Jose Lucio, self-published author of Heave Ho!


Heather Has Two Mommies (2015)

Written by LesleĆ” Newman

Illustrated by Laura Cornell

Watercolor and gouache

Typeset in Godlike (seriously, the typeset is called Godlike)

Candlewick Press

25 is a magic number, it seems. Nietzsche was right on the money with his theory of eternal recurrence. In television, David Lynch and Mark Frost have recently announced that Twin Peaks will be returning after a 25-year hiatus. In comics, Berkeley Breathed has just returned to the world of Bloom County, in time for its 25th anniversary. And now, speaking of silver anniversaries,
Candlewick Press has republished LesleĆ” Newman's groundbreaking picture book, Heather Has Two Mommies.

It was originally published in 1989 by Alyson Books, which specializes in LGBTQ books - and also published Dykes to Watch Out For by the great Alison Bechdel and many, many others. They've been on the frontlines since 1980. In gay-equality years, that makes them over 300 years old! Wow!

"Heather's favorite number is two."

I'm not sure what the whole behind-the-scenes story is, but from my point of view, this reissue seems like a metaphor in of itself for mainstream acceptance of same-sex parents. I mean, Candlewick Press? They publish books like Cutie Pie Looks for the Easter Bunny and Guinea Pig Party. No, I don't mean to pick on them, I know they publish lots of great picture books. Scanning through their online catalog, I see books about racism and civil rights and other important topics. But my point is, they're pretty darn mainstream.

All of the illustrations have a nice lived-in look. Lots of texture... lots of stuff!

Laura Cornell's illustrations are bright and colorful, full of fun details. 'Deceptively simple' is a phrase I probably use too much, but it sure counts here. Heather's house is far from neat and tidy... every page is filled things laying around. Character's clothes change from picture to picture to show the passage of days. The park is filled with families engaged in various activities, and even in the classroom scenes, all of the nameless children have their own personalities.

Heather and her two moms don't exist in a vacuum. They are a part of the busy, fun, chaotic world around them and they clearly fit right in.

I hope there will always be a place for Alyson Books, for publishers daring enough to keep pushing at the culture and taking chances with emerging artists, but I'm also grateful for Candlewick Press for putting this book in the hands of a new generation of children - children who would probably find it funny that something so sweet was at one time one of the most controversial picture books ever written.

This is the last page of the book, and I just realized right now, as I'm writing this,
that this is the same picture as the book cover, but from behind! Scroll up and see
for yourself! Pretty cool!

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