By Terri Schlichenmeyer, September 2015 Issue.

Who loves a party? YOU do, that’s who! You love the invitations, the decorations and the balloons. You love the cake and ice cream, and the games are fun. If there’s a magician or a clown, that’s even better.

But what if the party wasn’t quite right? What if the guest list made you upset? In the new book Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, a little girl learns how to make things all better.

One day at school, Stella’s teacher said she had something special for the class. They were going to have a Mother’s Day celebration and everybody could invite their mommies as special guests.

That was fine for Jonathan, Leon, Carmen and even Howie, who had two mothers, and he was sure they’d both come. It was fine for all the other kids, but it really worried Stella because she had two dads. That meant she’d be the only one at the party who didn’t have a mother.

"Stella Brings the Family" by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown. Chronicle Kids, 2015 | $16.99.

All week long, Stella fretted. She worried. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even her friends noticed she was sad but when Stella explained her situation, they didn’t quite understand. Leon wondered who made Stella’s lunch. Howie wanted to know who read bedtime stories in Stella’s house. Carmen asked who kissed Stella’s boo-boos.

But lunch, bedtime and boo-boos weren’t the “problem.” Finally, Jonathan made a suggestion: Why didn’t Stella bring her whole family? She should bring all the people who made her lunches and gave her hugs and kisses.

Stella’s daddy liked that idea. Her papa did, too, but Stella “wasn’t so sure.”

A few days later, when it came time for the class to get ready for the party, Stella worked very hard. The decorations went up, the invitations were made, and then party day arrived. So did Howie’s two mothers and Jonathan’s grandma – plus a whole family of people who belonged to Stella! And that was OK. It was more than OK, in fact, and they had the best Mother’s Day party ever.

But Father’s Day was coming up soon. What would Stella do next?

Some sticky social situations, sadly, have no lower age limit. Still, there’s always a solution, as your child will see in Stella Brings the Family.

Head-on, and with no fuss, Schiffer deals with an issue that’s actually been around for a long time: what happens when a celebration occurs and a child is absent the “right” parent to laud? In this case, Schiffer gives her main characters a nice fix for what could be an upsetting day – and then she takes things a little bit further in a sweet, casually told story with illustrations, by Clifton-Brown, that are the perfect accompaniment.

The ideal audience for this book, I think, is 4- to 7-year-olds, and preschool classes will want this book on their shelves. For sure, if your family has two mommies or two daddies, Stella Brings the Family is something your child will invite you to read again and again.


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