NEW YORK — A playful picture book about a little girl named Heather and her two happy mommies was a cultural and legal flashpoint 25 years ago, angering conservatives over the morality of same-sex parenting and landing libraries at the center of community 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 of her watershed story with fresh illustrations from a new artist and tweaking the text to streamline.
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.
Article continues below“I don’t specifically say that they’re married but they are,” Newman explained from her home just outside Northampton, Massachusetts. “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,” recalled Jacobson. “If I hadn’t done it somebody else would have found an author. The book needed to happen.”