All Families Invited (2019), written by Kathleen Goodman and illustrated by Jo Edwards, is a thoughtful look at the exclusivity of gendered school events, in this instance father-daughter dances.
The protagonist, Annabel, lives with her mother and does not have a father. Annabel soon realizes she isn’t alone. One of her friends lives with his two moms, another with an aunt and uncle; all three children are excluded from the dance. Annabel knows it isn’t right to exclude so many children and families.
On her way home from school she gets and idea – she’ll rename the event the Family Fall Fest! The next day at school she experiences resistance from the principle who uses the word “tradition” to warrant keeping the original name and policy. Annabel is hurt. After school she tells her mother about the situation. Her mom suggests she try again. This time, Annabel writes the principle a letter explaining why including everyone at the dance is important to her. The principle tears up when he reads it and agrees to change the name of the dance, so all are welcome.
The characters are as racially diverse as the family forms represented. I love that young Annabel recognizes injustice and has the confidence to act. I also appreciate the inclusion of adversity. Sometimes adults need convincing when it comes to doing what is right!
I highly recommend this book for school and classroom libraries. It is appropriate for children five to ten and likely to spark conversation, and perhaps empower children to identify and resist problematic policies at their schools.
*I received an ARC through NetGalley.
This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!