Review: A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary, illus. Qin Leng
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Groundwood Books. Thank you!
Publication: September 1, 2016 by Groundwood Books
When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all.
One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One has many stepsiblings, and another has a new baby in the family.
As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, it is special.
A warm and whimsical look at many types of families, written by award-winning author Sara O’Leary, with quirky and sweet illustrations by Qin Leng.
Sara O’Leary and Qin Leng’s gorgeous and affecting new picture book, A Family Is a Family Is a Family, centers around a very big question: what is a family?
The story opens to a classroom where a teacher, facing a group of young students, asks them what they think makes their family special. One of the students- our narrator through the story- goes last as their ‘family is not like everybody else’s’ and they are not sure quite what to say. However, as student after student goes on to talk openly about their own family, it becomes evident that every family, no matter the makeup, is not only unique but also, quite simply, is a family. Striking a wonderfully fanciful, sweet and stirring note here- which lessens what could be a ‘message’-type tone- is the combination of Sara O’Leary’s writing with Qin Leng’s illustrations. As the story unfolds and each student shares a uniqueness about their family, readers are treated to: a singular (often funny), short narrative from the student as well as an illustrated depiction of the student’s narration. Sara O’Leary’s gently sparkling text and Qin Leng’s playful ink lines capturing each family wonderfully balance a light yet ultimately meaningful story.
Overall, A Family Is a Family Is a Family is lovely; movingly told and upliftingly illustrated. In my day-to-day as a children’s librarian, I can say that this title has already been added to ‘family’ booklists and recommended multiple times- and it has already been loved and shared by our patrons. Sometimes the brightest and most consequential tales in picture books are those told with a deft hand- and the already-acclaimed Sara O’Leary and Qin Leng have absolutely shone here.
I received a copy of this title courtesy of Groundwood Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.