Polacco, Patricia. In Our Mothers’ House. New York: Philomel Books, 2009. ISBN 9780399250767
The narrator of In Our Mothers’ House is the oldest of three children adopted by Meema and Marmee. The book shows the family’s happy, fun filled life during holidays (Halloween and Christmas) and events in the culturally diverse community (such as building a treehouse and hosting a block party). The mother of one family (Mrs. Lockner) is the only person in the community with a problem with Meema and Marmee. Her one line in the book, “I don’t appreciate what you two are!” is the one dark cloud for the narrator growing up in Berkley, California.
While the picture book does portray same-sex couples in a positive light, it doesn’t portray them in a realistic environment. Doubtless, there are same-sex couples who live in diverse, welcoming communities, however it seems strange that there is only one person who speaks out (and vaguely at that) against Marmee and Meemaw. In addition, the portraits at the end of the book show all three of the children married to the opposite gender.
This book can be enjoyed by young children, but also is relevant to teens. Teens can explore what family truly means, or can research the prejudices shown by Mrs. Lockner in comparison to what same-sex couples face in their area.
Rainbow List—2010 (ALA)
Kirkus—“ Unfortunately, while this ambitious picture book seeks to offer an inclusive vision of family, it ultimately comes up short…The distillation of hate into a single character undermines the reality of systematic oppression faced by same-sex couples; furthermore, the flash-forward narration depicting each child grown and married into heterosexual, monoracial unions ironically presents this family as an anomaly.”
Kirkus. Kirkus Reviews. March 2009. (Vol. 77, No. 6). Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=0&isbn=9780399250767