Book review: The Girl with Two Dads, by Mel Elliot

Canadian citation (one I read): Elliot, Mel. The girl with two dads. Egmont. 2019. $13.95. 32p. PB. 9781405292436.

USA citation (same ISBN, released later this year): Elliot, Mel. The girl with two dads. Egmont UK. 2020. 32p. PB. 9781405292436.

Pearl is excited to meet the new girl starting at her school. Matilda is just like her, with one difference: she has two dads. Curious, Pearl is elated to be invited over to Matilda’s to see what their home is like. She imagines how different Matilda’s life must be from her own mom-and-dad family. She’s certain Matilda’s cool dads must feed her cake for dinner every night and let her jump on the bed. She is quite disappointed to find out that Matilda’s family is exactly as boring as her own.

The story, told in tight rhyme and meter, is fun to read aloud with kids, and has a great punchline at the end about how all parents are boring no matter what configuration they come in. The set-up relies on the problematic trope that mothers are bossy and dads are fun, which may be a turn-off for parents even if it does get disproven by the end. For such a lighthearted book, it could start a serious conversation about sexism and gender roles within families. That might not be a bad thing!

Normally a book about same-sex parents told from an outsider’s perspective would be useful only as a learning tool for children who had never heard of it, but The girl with two dads is an entertaining story for any child. I would love to see more books like this, that increase understanding for children like Pearl, but also provide a funny story for children like Matilda to enjoy. I would highly recommend this book for children ages 3 to 6.

Reviewed by Ashley Dunne

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