CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 24. . . .February 23, 2018
Jesse Unaapik Mike & Kedrry McCluskey. Illustrated by Lenny Lischenko.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2017.
32 pp., pbk., $10.95.
Preschool / Birth-age 3.
Review by Meredith Cleversey.
"Anaana, where does my dad live?" Talittuq said as he sat at the table, eating his breakfast before his first day of grade two.
Anaana answered, "Your dad lives in Mittimatalik, Talittuq. And we live in Iqaluit."
"Why doesn't he live here with us? My cousin's ataata lives with him. Why doesn't my dad live with us?" asked Talittuq.
"Because every family is different," Anaana answered. "Some families have an anaana and an ataata living in the same house, but in our family, it's just me and you. And even though there is no ataata here, we have lots of love and happiness in our home, right?"
"Right," said Talittuq. Anaana leaned over the table and kissed Talittuq right on the nose.
Before he leaves home for his first day of grade two, Talittuq asks his mother the same question he's asked many times before—why doesn't his father live with them? Talittuq's mother tells him that every family is different, but it's not until he goes to school that Talittuq truly understands just how unique the families of his friends and teachers are.
Families, written by Jesse Unaapik Mike and Kerry McCluskey and illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko, follows a day in the life of second grader Talittuq as he discovers the various kinds of families present in his hometown. Talittuq wishes he had a father at home because his cousin lives with both parents. His mother tells him that all families are different, but Talittuq doesn't believe her until he notices that many of the kids and teachers in his life have family structures different from his own. By the time he returns home for lunch, Talittuq is excited to tell his mother what he's learned—the most important thing is not who is at home, but that home is a place full of happiness and love.
Families is a lovely, inclusive story that showcases numerous family setups. In addition to Talittuq living in a single-parent home, the book introduces readers to a family with both a mother and father at home, a girl with two mothers (plus a third birth mother who is still a part of the girl's life), a boy with two fathers, a girl living with her grandmother, and a boy with two families—a father in Iqaluit and a mother in Ottawa. Families isn't a book meant to focus on any one type of family. It is a celebration of all families, and it's a joy to see that Talittuq doesn't find any one family type strange or abnormal.
The Iqaluit setting and use of words in the Inuktitut language make this a good choice for those interested in books from the Nunavut region while the pronunciation guide at the end of the tale makes Families accessible to everyone. Lenny Lishchenko's illustrations highlight not only the various family setups, but also the individuality of each person. Differing skin tones and body types are present in the images, adding another layer of uniqueness to the characters.
With a storyline that celebrates the diversity and strength of all kinds of family units, is a happy tale with a loving message.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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University of Manitoba
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