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Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse. Illustrated by Dawn Lee.
Toronto, ON: Women's Press, 1990.
24pp., paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-88961-143-2 CIP.

Subject Headings:
School field trips-Fiction.
Mothers and daughters-Fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8

Reviewed by Marilyn Aldworth.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

I am assuming this book for young readers is about having a mother who is gay and in a stable, long-term relationship with another woman. If that assumption is correct, then Asha's Mums will fill a void in that subject area for children. And it will also raise awareness about having different kinds of families and different kinds of relationships. But this book may also raise questions that were brought up but not answered in the simple text, and chances are good that children will be a little confused at the end of this rather didactic tale.

I would have thought a teacher attaching the title Ms. to her name would not question the inclusion of two names, instead of the customary one, on a permission form. And to add insult to injury, Ms. Samuels threatens Asha with forfeiture of the special trip to the science Centre if she doesn't bring back the form filled out correctly. All this happens during class within earshot of Asha's classmates, who are naturally curious. It certainly shows the teacher to be lacking in sensitivity and awareness.

I found the story slightly contrived, I as though getting their message across was the authors' sole purpose. The ending of the story is positive, with Asha's classmates full of curiosity and Asha full of happiness.

Dawn Lee's illustrations are not very appealing or expressive. The text mentions in detail a "favourite red sweat suit and yellow and white sneakers with hearts on the side," yet in the accompanying illustration of Asha there is no colour, no sweat suit and no patterned sneakers. Consequently, there is no connection and no reinforcement from text to illustration.

This book could be useful with the right resource person discussing it, since there are so few books about non-heterosexual relationships for this age group.

Marilyn Aldworth, North Vancouver School District, North Vancouver, BC.
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