The Not-So-Only Child
reviewed by Judith E. Beckett, R.N.
written by Heather Joplin, Illustrated by Lauren Page Russell
Nickname Press, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, 2006
Larissa’s family is by no means conventional although it seems that way at first. She begins by telling us that she is an only child. She introduces us to her Mummy and Daddy, then to her three cats and her teddy bear, Sleep. She announces, “My Mummy is five years older than my Daddy.” And “Mummy is the real boss of the family because she says when we get to go out to dinner.” Kids can be so embarrassing!
As a matter of fact, Larissa shares details of her relationship with all the members of her extended family. We meet her six grandparents and then her two great grandmothers, pictured riding along, side by side, on their bicycles. “Granny”, she tells us, is 98 years old!
On another page, a whole line-up of “aunties” link arms: “They’re really friends of Mummy and Daddy but I get to call them aunties because they’re just like family anyway.”
Who would your child include in a drawing of “just like family”? For that matter, what would your child have to say (in twenty-five words or less) about each of the members she includes? That could be interesting.
Larissa reports: “Auntie Shannon is my Godmother. For my birthday she got me pink Chinese silk pajamas”. And she says that even though her cousin Shay is 4 years older than she is, she “still plays with me because she’s really nice.”
Finally, Larissa tells us she also has a half-sister and half-brother. This is the not-so-conventional part. Her explanation of how that happened is simple and clearly explained in words a three-year-old can understand. She presents her half-sister Maria, her sister Katya and their daddies Mitchell and Everett by saying: “Sometimes two daddies want to make a baby, but they need a mummy to help. My mummy helped them make Maria.”
As for her half-brother Ryan, Larissa explains: “My daddy helped Vivian and Carolyn make Ryan, so my Daddy is Ryan’s Daddy, too. But Ryan doesn’t call him daddy, he calls him David.” Larissa counts fifty-five people and sixteen pets (including an alpaca and a pig) in her amazing and diverse tribe. How many are there in yours?
You could spend hours reading and talking about this book with your not-so-only-child. This is the book that can help him untangle the geneological and social web of your family. It will inspire him (and you, too) to run off to find crayons and paper to create a family picture as generous and loving as Larissa’s.
P.S. This is a true story.
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