July 9, 2012
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco was inspired to write this book by the teary question of one young reader. “Mrs. Polacco,” asked the girl, “are you ever going to write about us?” Earlier in the day, the students had been reading essays aloud. The essays were about their families. When this little girl started to read from her own essay she was stopped by an aide who told her that she didn’t come from a real family and needed to sit down.
Like the little girl who spoke to Polacco, the narrator of this story comes from a somewhat unconventional family. She and her sister and brother have all been adopted by two moms. Meema was a pediatrician while Marmee was a paramedic. The house bustled with the smells of food cooking and the sounds of music playing and laughter. Family and friends gathered there for meals and chatter.
Marmee also organized the neighborhood block party with all of its games and activities and food. Every family celebrated their heritage and their connection to each other.
Every family but one.
Unlike the majority of Polacco’s books, this one centers not on a character and a plot but growing up in a loving community and family and I would like to take this time to thank her for writing it. Clearly, Polacco knows what makes a family and a community strong. She also knows the importance of books in the lives of children who need to see themselves and the families they live in represented in print.
Whether you are one of two moms or dads, the parent of a curious child, or simply wanting to share the idea of tolerance with your children, pick up this book. You won’t regret it.