Wednesday 18 May 2022

Family: All that You Dream it to Be

Family: All that You Dream it to Be by Byll and Beth Stephen, illustrated by Simone Howe (ABC Books) HB RRP $19.99

Reviewed by Kathleen Grace

The co-authors of this picture book are sisters who are the writers behind the ABC TV musical sensations Teeny Tiny Stevies. This book is a reimaging of their much-loved song, 'Family' ('Love is Los'). The concept of family is shown in words and illustrations as being highly flexible, from families where both parents are same-sexed, where there is a single mother (or father), where there are same-sex parents, and so on. There are also families of colour with the front cover of the book, for instance, showing white, black, brown, and Asian family members.

Each double-page highlights a family: for example, on page one at 29 Adelong there’s a girl and her mum on bikes who ride the neighbourhood chatting to house-dwellers on the way. There are numerous houses featured, such as at 118 Karingal Street where a mum and a dad ‘and three kids under three. Once a year their half-sister flies out, from Mexico on her school holidays.’ The final page ends with a mixed-colour family -- and pet dog -- at the dinner table (one member of which is in a wheelchair), with accompanying text that reads, ‘You just love who you love, and you build a great team, because family’s all that you dream it to be.’

The sentences are written to be read aloud, with the use of full and half-rhyming lines that make for a strong rhythm. The illustrations are clear and colourful and ideal for poring over.

This book would be ideal for an adult – such as a teacher – to discuss with readers aged 5 years and up what makes a family. And what families do for entertainment and fun.

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