The great big book of families

Mary Hoffman, 1945-

Book - 2011

Features illustrations and descriptions of different types of families and how their lives are similar and different.

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Picture books
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin c2011.
Item Description
Originally published: London : Janetta Otter-Barry Books, 2010.
Physical Description
unpaged : col. ill. ; 31 cm
Main Author
Mary Hoffman, 1945- (-)
Other Authors
Ros Asquith (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Celebrating diversity and connections, this generously sized picture book celebrates families with a different theme—homes, school, jobs, holidays, food, clothes, pets, feelings—on each double-page spread. Featured in the beautifully detailed, line-and-watercolor vignettes are nuclear families, single-parent families, adoptive and foster families, and some with two mommies or two daddies. The diversity extends beyond just the makeup of the families, though. The spread about work, for example, shows that in some families, everyone has a job (including kids doing chores). In some, there is a stay-at-home dad; in others, parents work at home, and the picture shows a mom at the computer, kids and pets all around her; and sometimes, parents just can't find work. With the joyful intimacy, sadness is also part of the family portraits, and so is anger, as when a kid fumes while everyone fusses over a new baby. Each illustration is a story in itself, and children will find themselves even as they recognize similarities to those who may seem very different. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In matter-of-fact prose and genial pen-and-ink drawings, Hoffman and Asquith reassure readers about something they may already know intuitively: there's no one right way to be a family. What sets their survey of familyhood apart in this growing genre is the collaborators' expansive take on demographics. They cover not only a wide range of parental and domestic arrangements, but also schooling, homes, consumerism, employment—or lack of it—and psychographics ("In some families everyone shares their feelings.... Sometimes not everyone in the family feels the same way about things"). Asquith's spreads have a lively, encyclopedic feel, with whimsical themed borders (variously clad feet march across the top of the "Transportation" section), occasional asides to the audience ("Is a teddy a pet?" a toy bear wonders), and a recurring cat character adding to the visual fun. "amilies can be big, small, happy, sad, rich, poor, loud, quiet, mad, good-tempered, worried, or happy-go-lucky," writes Hoffman in her wrapup. "Most families are all of these things some of time." It may not be Tolstoyan wisdom, but it's undeniably true. Ages 5–8. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

K-Gr 2—With simple language, Hoffman describes almost every imaginable familial configuration, including those with single, same-sex, and foster parents. Asquith expands on the diversity suggested in the text by including mixed-race families and family members with disabilities in her color cartoon illustrations. Hoffman also discusses the differences in jobs, celebrations, clothes, hobbies, and pets found in the various types of homes. As she does so, she alludes to some difficult social issues such as homelessness and unemployment, but suggests that family members help one another through hard times. The artist adds simple clues to make some of these issues accessible to young children. For example, on the page where the parents are unemployed, the child is shown offering a small piggy bank to the concerned mother and father. Although the text is at times serious, the pages are busy and bright, and the format helps the book feel lighthearted and energetic. Todd Parr's The Family Book (Little, Brown, 2003) covers many of the same basic principles but is written for an even younger audience and uses animals to represent different kinds of families. In this book, children are likely to find representation of their own situations, whatever they may be, and assurance that their family is just right.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT [Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Features illustrations and descriptions of different types of families and how their lives are similar and different.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith's humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and again. A celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over, The Great Big Book of Families is a great big treat for every family to share.