Review: Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw (9781250196934)

Mads has two best friends, Cat who drags her to hear bands that she’s never heard of, and her father. Every Sunday, Mads joins her father for minor league baseball games and other evenings they watch their favorite TV shows together. Mads’ mother is often left out of their father-daughter time together and as the book progresses, it looks like Mads may be headed for her parents divorcing. But it’s all about a secret that her father is keeping from her, something to do with a large check sent to Mads and a grandfather she never met. As the secrets start to be revealed, Mads begins to learn more about herself as well and just who she really wants to kiss.

This graphic novel is amazing, particularly when one sees it was written by one person and drawn by another. The entire book is one cohesive whole with art that is both playful but also emotionally rich when the story calls for it. The writing is strong and the story is complex. Venable includes religion throughout the book, allowing space for questioning beliefs, particularly around LGBTQ issues. Those themes enrich the entire graphic novel, creating tension in the family, offering honesty to replace secrets, and giving sources of pride rather than disdain. Venable doesn’t offer easy resolution to these issues and the way that they impact generations of a family.

A stellar graphic novel for teens that is filled with LGBTQ pride. Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from copy provided by First Second.

 

2010 Lammy Award Finalists

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School Library Journal has the story that the 2010 Lammy Award Finalists have been announced.  The Lambda Literary Award is given to books that show excellence in the field of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender literature.  The nominees for children’s and teen literature are:

Ash by Malinda Lo

How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart

In Mike We Trust by P. E. Ryan

Sprout by Dale Peck

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

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In Our Mothers’ House

In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco

A joyous look at a family with two mothers and children of all different colors, this book is filled with laughter and love.  Children who live in all sorts of families will find themselves at home here as we learn about favorite sun-filled rooms, the surprise of puppies, building a treehouse, and a colorful blockparty.  The book basks in normalcy, family and everyday moments that mean so much to children.  There is a moment when a neighbor expresses her fear about their lifestyle, but that incident too is handled with a gentleness and grace that marks this entire picture book.  As the children grow into adulthood, we get to see the wonderful job of parenting come to fruition.  Most picture books would not need this button at the end, but in this case, it was important to underline this. 

Polacco has created a complete vision of a family here.  Readers get to see them be together for important events and everyday moments.  Her writing invites us into their lives, demonstrates their love for each other and their children, and leaves us hoping that we as parents can do this well.  Children of gay and lesbian parents will find this book a wonderful mirror of their lives, celebrating what two parents of any sex can create in a family.  Polacco’s art enhances the story, underlining the warmth and love that is inherent in the book.

An important book to have in public libraries, this is a real celebration of families and the many forms they come in.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.