Megan Dowd Lambert’s Real Sisters Pretend is the story of Tayja and Mia, two sisters whose imaginations soar as they play pretend—turning their living room in to a setting for becoming mountain climbing princesses. What they don’t have to pretend, however, the older Tayja tells Mia, is that they are sisters. Tayja, who is Black, then relates the stories of their adoptions to Mia, who is White, possibly Latina. “Some people don’t know that,” Mia reminds Tayja, and they recount the story of a woman at the grocery store who asked “Are you real sisters?” Their Momma told them that the woman “didn’t understand about adoption.”
Mia joyously responds, “But we do,” and the two go on with their princess game.
I love seeing this tale of siblings. So many books about children with same-sex parents focus on the relationship of a child to the parents—important, to be sure, but hardly the whole picture of what family can mean. The illustrations by Nicole Tadgell further convey the loving and fun relationship between the sisters.
Lambert, whose other books include the subtly gay-inclusive A Crow of His Own, tells us in the introduction to Sisters that she was inspired by a conversation she overheard between her own adopted daughters about how adoption made them real sisters. She writes:
In our family, we understand that being biologically related is not the only way to be a “real” family. We understand that adoption is another way adults become parents and children become daughters and sons, and, maybe, sisters and brothers. And we understand that the often complex circumstances behind the need for adoption require respect for birth families and include diverse stories of love, loss, choice, and hardship—stories belonging first and foremost to adopted children themselves.
Kudos to Lambert for giving voice to at least one of those stories. Real Sisters Pretend is an obvious recommendation for many adoptive families—but also for any families hoping to share with their kids the many ways that families may form.
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