Saturday is Patty Day (1993), written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Annette Hegel, is one of the earliest children’s picture books to deal with lesbian parenting and divorce. Newman does a wonderful job creating a teachable text that accounts for the challenges of seperation. I particularly appreciate her sensitive focus on the feelings of Frankie, the young child whose parents are divorcing. At every turn, the story rings true, and even 25+ years after it was originally published, Saturday is Patty Day is a good book to support parents, lesbian or not, in helping their children process divorce.
Frankie is a young girl who loves her moms and her stuffed toy, Doris Delores Brontosaurus. Before her moms, Allie and Patty, separate, Frankie can hear them fighting at night as she cuddles her stuffed dino. After the separation she deals with sadness and anger, but both moms support her and demonstrate a continued commitment to their relationships with her.
Frankie will live with Allie most of the time, but Saturday will be Patty Day.
Patty’s new apartment has a shelf Frankie can keep her things on and a pull-out sofa she can sleep on when she is there. The overall feel of the text is calm comfort. Frankie will be well cared for even as her home life changes.
I particularly appreciated Newman’s depiction of Frankie’s emotional maturity. She leaves her treasured toy, Doris Delores Brontosaurus, with Patty after she notices her mom holding back tears at the end of their Saturday visit. This gesture shows she recognizes the pain of others and reacts.
Although the illustrations have a slightly amateurish quality, they depict the actions and emotions of characters warmly, overall complementing the text nicely.
This is an enjoyable read as relevant today as in 1993. Sadly, this one is out of print, but I’d love to see the illustrations updated and the book re-released!
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!