Written and Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008
Bobby was Chloe’s favorite uncle. They went for long walks together.
What makes this book so dangerous? It features a homosexual couple getting married.
When Uncle Bobby announces that he and his friend Jamie are getting married, everyone is happy, except for Chloe. She asks her mother why they are getting married and tells her that she’s afraid she’ll be losing her favorite uncle. Mama suggests she talk to him. Uncle Bobby tells her that he and Jamie want to have a family of their own, but promises that they will still keep having fun. Jamie starts joining them for their special outings and Chloe gets to know him better. They ask her to be their flower girl. On the day of the wedding, she helps them both get ready and dances with both her new uncles at the reception.
This was the debut picture book from author/illustrator Sarah S. Brannen. There are a lot of things I like about it, but my favorite is that it’s not a book about gay marriage. It’s about a little girl who is worried about losing the good relationship with her uncle once he gets married. The fact that her uncle is marrying another man is just a side detail in the story, which has the effect of showing their relationship to be no different than any other marriage. Now that marriage equality is the law here in the US, I hope we’re on our way to viewing every married couple as simply as this book does. I also like that her mother advises her to talk to her uncle, rather than giving her a lecture or dismissing her.
All of the characters in the book are anthropomorphic guinea pigs, adorably drawn in watercolor and graphite in mostly full page illustrations. (Ms. Brannen owned guinea pigs called Uncle Bobby and Chloe, according to the blurb on her book jacket.) I particularly like the sense of fashion in the book, with lots of different colorful outfits for everyone, including the wedding guests. There’s even diversity in the wedding guests, with some unusual guinea pig breeds showing up as well. So far, it looks like every challenge to this book has been refuted and the book has been able to stay on library shelves. I like to think this trend will continue, because this adorable book has a great message that applies to everyone.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that life brings changes, but good friends can always stay close with a little effort.