“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Friday, September 21, 2012

Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families ▪ Non-fiction Picture Book

WHO'S IN MY FAMILY?: All About Our Families (Let's Talk About You and Me series)
by Robie H. Harris  illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Available now  Candlewick Press  Ages 2-5
Trusted New York Times best-selling author Robie H. Harris continues her series for preschoolers with a look at the many kinds of families that make up our world.
Story: "Harris and Westcott, who previously collaborated on Who Has What? All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies (2011), return with another matter-of-fact and sensitive informational book, this time not about the human body and sexuality, but about human families and relationships." (Kirkus Reviews) Join Nellie and Gus and their family -- plus all manner of other families -- for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal -- and totally wonderful.

Story behind the story:  I've known Robie Harris for years, ever since the publication of now mega-award-winning and bestselling IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, her first book with Candlewick Press.  So I gave her a ring and asked her about how this one came about:  "Ever heard a young child, who's looking at animal families at the zoo, blurt out questions such as: "Who's in my family?" "Was I adopted or not?" "Is our puppy and are my friends in our family?" I wrote WHO'S IN MY FAMILY? All About Our Families to answer those kinds of questions because we all also know that books can help to answer those perfectly normal questions and concerns that most young children have," says the author. 

Of course, since I can't draw for beans, this book would not have worked at all without the entertaining and age-appropriate art created by Nadine Bernard Westcott. We are just finishing up WHAT'S IN THERE?, the third book in our series. WHO HAS WHAT? is the first book. WHO'S IN MY FAMILY? is the second. All three books feature Gus and Nellie and their parents. We've become very fond of this family. Bet you will be too! 

You, the children's book librarian and teacher community, have been champions of my earlier books. Our community of children's book authors needs you. Without you, our books would not be accessible to children and their families. Thank you so much for that!"

Robie H. Harris is the highly acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, IT'S SO AMAZING! and IT'S NOT THE STORK!, essential guides for younger children on bodies, babies, families, and health. She lives in New York City. Nadine Bernard Westcott is the illustrator of more than a hundred books, including WHO HAS WHAT? She lives in Massachusetts.


“This book sets out to reassure children: “Wherever you live, wherever you go, there are all kinds of families.” As readers journey to the zoo with Nellie, Gus, and their family, they learn about where people live, what they eat, their habits and hobbies, and how their families are composed, including references to single parents and same-sex couples. The prose is unadorned and economical, but gentle, and perfect for very young children. Digitally created images are bright and welcoming and feature a host of multicultural characters and diverse families. The conversations between Nellie and Gus featured in speech bubbles alongside the illustrations sweetly reinforce the messages in the broader text: “Right, Gus. Don’t worry. I can be your big sister and your friend. And I am!” This book should find a place in classroom libraries, guidance offices, and public libraries.” –Alison Donnelly, Mississippi Valley Library District, Collinsville, IL
“Narrative text and speech balloons introduce diverse family constellations in a celebratory spirit of inclusivity and community… the tone remains positive and affirming even as it acknowledges that “sometimes, families have mad times. And sometimes, families have sad times....A welcome addition."
Want a copy to review? Order your reviewer's copy now.  We can't wait to hear what you have to share...

[Robie Harris author photo credit:  Susan Kuklin]


Pat Hensley said...

This book was a fantastic book! What a great book to use to teach the concept of families to young children. It talks about different types of families that exist whether traditional family, step-families, or other types. It also talks about things that families like to do together and how family member support each other. The illustrations are awesome to so that students can visualize the concepts. There are many opportunities for young children to learn new vocabulary. I would definitely use this in a classroom with young children!

N Mills said...

I liked the idea, but I was disappointed with the quality of the writing. As an adult I understand the difference between a Grandparent living with your family and a child living with a Grandparent but for the age group that would be reading the story they will not. I do not like the use of incomplete sentences "In cities. In towns." or " Some have a mommy." 1 out of 5

Linda Biondi said...

I give this book a 5 out of 5. This is a masterpiece. The author shares insights about all types of families in a way that is non-judgemental. All cultures and types of families are included in the pictures. This book should be in all libraries.

Sandra Hartman said...

The idea behind this book is fantastic. Our students have a unit on different types of families, and it is difficult to find one on each type of family configuration, but this one book has them all covered. The illustrations are interesting and it isn't too wordy for younger ages, but still will keep older students listening too. Definitely 4 out of 5.

Anonymous said...

I thought the idea of this book was great! I read it to my students, who are English Language Learners and I think that all of the listing in the book was a little too much for them. I was hoping that it would be more basic and explain the members of the family in a more basic way. I also found that the dialogue being separate from the actual writing to be confusing. I skipped a lot of the dialogue because it made it more confusing for my students. I asked my students to help me review the book with me and they all said that their favorite part was when the families went to the zoo. I think that the language was just too much. In the future I will probably just use bits and pieces at a time instead of all at once.

Anonymous said...

This is a good book to show children that there are a lot of different types of families and that diversity is normal. It portrays many different family configurations and how families can be different in some ways, but how all families are similar as well. I give it a 4 out of 5.

depinke said...

What I liked best about this book was that it also included foster families. At my K-3 school, I know of several situations where my kids are in foster situations with and without relatives. I felt the writing was in a conversational tone and by using incomplete sentences, allowed the book to unfold more as a conversation than a didactic treatise. The illustrations are adorable - and add to the familiarity of the subject matter and the convenience of the matter of fact presentation. I also love the use of conversation balloons to give the book a graphic novel feel - which always entices those reluctant or emerging readers. Definate recommended buy for any K - 3 library! 5 out of 5!

PLLoggerR said...

Who's in My Family: All About Our Family by Robie H. Harris, Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott is a pleasant book about families. While simplistic, and somewhat stilted, it conveys the concept of family very well. Families do not have to all be the same but they do similar things; this is presented gently so that children will understand. The pictures are detailed allowing for more discussion and sharing with each reading. A picnic basket 4.

Janeen said...

I like the concept, but the book is quite lengthy for the intended age group. The speech bubbles are distracting and could be left out entirely. I think the main idea is to discuss diversity in families, but the endless number of examples is overkill. I think the book would do well to keep the ideas on diversity but omit the pages that mention families brushing teeth and cleaning the house together, etc. I give this a 2 out of 5.

Anonymous said...

Very useful in the hands of teachers for helping young students explore the concept of families and the many variations a family can take. 4 stars