It’s been just over 25 years since a playful picture book about a little girl named Heather and her two happy mommies was a cultural and legal flashpoint. At the time, it represented a startling first in children’s literature — a story about the daughter of lesbians — which angered conservatives over the morality of same-sex parenting and landing libraries in battles over placement in the children’s stacks.
Today, Heather – of Heather Has Two Mommies – has a lot more company in books for young kids about different kinds of families, but hers was out of print and seemed visually dated.
That’s why creator, Leslea Newman, decided on a new version, updating the look with fresh illustrations from a new artist and tweaking the text to streamline.
However, there’s one big change, but you have to squint to notice: Heather’s Mama Kate and Mama Jane wear little matching rings on their marriage fingers.
“I don’t specifically say that they’re married but they are. I don’t know where I could have smoothly inserted that into the text. That’s not what the story is about. The story is really about Heather.”
Heather was Newman’s first picture book and is certainly her most well-known. The latest edition, out this month, is from Candlewick Press, with illustrations by Laura Cornell replacing those of Diana Souza.
Newman wrote the story in 1988 after a chance encounter in Northampton with Amy Jacobson, a lesbian mom who was looking for reading material that better reflected her life with her partner – now wife – and their young daughter – now grown.
“Every step I was educating people about our family because there was nothing else. If I hadn’t done it somebody else would have found an author. The book needed to happen.”