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In Our Mothers' House

by Patricia PolaccoPhilomel Books; $18; ages 4-8



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If you value diversity and strong family bonds, you will want to read Patricia Polacco's In Our Mothers' House (Philomel Books; $18; ages 4-8) aloud with your child. Polacco, who has written and illustrated more than 45 children's books, looks to real life for inspiration. In this book, two moms, Marmee and Meema, form a multicultural family through adoption, creating a life of love in their beautiful home on Woolsey Street. Polacco also introduces the Lockner family, neighbors who openly oppose the same-sex family--and who leave the three children confused about why they are disliked. But the moms handle their encounters with grace, and teach their children to be self-confident and respectful in the face of adversity.

My partner, Kim, and I appreciated the portrayal of diverse families, and generations of young and old, gathering at home--a peaceful and open sanctuary--to share food, laughs, and love. Our older children, ages six and three, enjoyed the pencil-and-watercolor pictures--Madison commented that she liked "the brown girl's hair"--but the book was a bit too long to hold their attention. (We'll store it on our shelf until the kids are older.)

We especially loved how the family was portrayed as being like any other. Our own family consists of two moms and three kids, and was created through adoption. We take part in car pools, dance recitals, and basketball games. We aren't "average" parents because we have to show the world that our untraditional family is as good as any other family. Maybe all adoptive parents feel pressure to be better than average. I don't know, but I do know how grateful I am for my children and for the power of our love. Marmee and Meema felt the same pressure and knew the same truth. Families of every kind will value this uplifting story about love and tolerance.

Reviewed by Amy Ford, who lives in Austin, Texas. She and her partner are the adoptive moms of three daughters.

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