For Father’s Day, a kids’ book for modern families
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown (Chronicle Kids 2015) $17; 36 pp.
Who loves a party? Who doesn’t? The invitations, the decorations, the balloons the cake and ice cream, the games and the fun. If there’s a magician or a clown, even better.
But what if the party wasn’t quite right? What if the guest list upset you? In Stella Brings the Family, a little girl learns how to make things all better.
One day at school, Stella’s teacher said she had something special for the class. They were going to have a Mother’s Day celebration and everybody could invite their mommies. That was fine for Jonathan and Leon and Carmen. Howie had two mothers, and he was sure they’d both come. It was fine for all the other kids, but it really worried Stella because she had two dads. That meant she’d be the only one at the party who didn’t have a mother.
All week long, Stella fretted. She worried. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even her friends noticed she was sad but when Stella explained her situation, they didn’t quite understand. Leon wondered who made Stella’s lunch. Howie wanted to know who read bedtime stories in Stella’s house. Carmen asked who kissed her boo-boos.
But lunch and bedtime and boo-boos weren’t the problem. Finally, Jonathan made a suggestion: Why didn’t Stella bring her whole family? She should bring all the people who made her lunches and gave her hugs and kisses.
Stella’s Daddy liked that idea. Her Papa did, too, but Stella wasn’t so sure. A few days later, when it came time for the class to get ready for the party, Stella worked very hard. The decorations went up, the invitations were made, and party day arrived! So did Howie’s two mothers and Jonathan’s grandma … plus a whole family of people who belonged to Stella! That was more than OK — they had the best Mother’s Day party ever. But Father’s Day was coming up soon. What would Stella do next?
Some sticky social situations, sadly, have no lower-age limit. Still, there’s always a solution, as your child will see inside Stella Brings the Family.
Head-on, and with no fuss, author Miriam B. Schiffer deals with an issue that’s actually been around for a long time: what happens when a celebration occurs and a child is absent the “right” parent to laud? In this case, Schiffer gives her main characters a nice fix for what could be an upsetting day — and then she takes things a little bit further in a sweet, casually-told story with illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown that are the perfect accompaniment.
The audience here, I think, is right around the 4-to-7 age group, and preschool classes will want this book on their shelves. For sure, if your family has two mommies or two daddies, Stella Brings the Family is something your child will invite you to read again and again.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2015.