Meisner, Natalie. Mars-Cinq, Mathilde (ill.). My mommy, my mama, my brother & me. Nimbus Publishing. 2019. $22.95. 32p. HC. 9781771087414.
In this rhyming picture book with a repeating refrain, a family heads to the shore to see what fun treasures they can find along the beach. On their way they encounter neighbours of all stripes, with a lovely lesson that the true treasures they’ve collected are friendships with the lovely people of their community. Set in Nova Scotia and inspired by the author’s experience raising her family in a small coastal town, My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother & Me is a lovely snapshot of a day spent exploring the outdoors with family in a tight-knit community.
It’s wonderful to see a book that shows a mixed-race family with two moms existing and belonging in a small town, a lovely reminder that diversity and belonging can be experienced in a life lived outside the city. Children’s publishers are putting out more and more diverse books every year, yet I haven’t seen much of it extend to small towns. I found this book wonderfully unpretentious, putting diversity front and center while allowing the story to be about something seemingly unrelated. The two-mom title is the refrain of the book, positioning the queer household as pedestrian as well as foundational to the action. I adored the lesson of the book, which shows the family inviting their friends to their dinner table—a gesture rooted just as much in small town hospitality as it is in the queer tenet of found family. I learned some wild facts about seagulls too!
A lovely book for a one-on-one read at home, where kids can look closely at the treasures the kids find by the sea. The book also highlights the rule that the kids have to narrow down their haul to only one item to bring home, something adults reading the book can discuss with their own kids and even practice with the treasures found in the book: “Which one would you bring home?”
Highly recommended for parents looking for seamlessly queer picture books, mixed-race queer family representation, or small town settings. Kids hoping to stave off bedtime for as long as possible will enjoy the length and the possibility to pause and reflect on the kids’ treasures every few pages, all while getting a healthy dose of early literacy skills through the rhymes and repetition. Recommended for ages 3 (with a long attention span) to 7.
Review by Ashley Dunne