A close examination of the cover of Lesléa Newman’s Donovan’s Big Day — which features two, shiny gold rings dangling overhead — hints that the story involves a wedding. If you miss that cue, you’ll probably spend half of the book wondering just what Donovan’s “very BIG day” is all about. (Which could actually be a lot of fun for young readers!) But if you’re a fan of Newman’s work, you already know it’s not a “typical” wedding. Newman is one of a handful of authors who pens children’s books featuring same-gender parents and how their families are just like every other family out there. And Donovan’s family, as well as his big day, is no different.
This day is so important that Donovan doesn’t have time to sleep in. He is in a hurry to complete his routine and make it to the wedding venue on time. Without delay, he inhales a big breakfast, gets washed up, and puts on a freshly pressed suit, among other things.
To illustrate Donovan’s busy day, the artist chooses a muted palette, but the images are still lively. The pages are filled with hints of what Donovan’s family is like. The staircase wall features photos of Donovan with his two moms, there’s a petite grandmother making pancakes in the kitchen, a wide-eyed and nervous-looking flower girl standing perfectly still in another scene, and even a muddy Saint Bernard named Sheba running around the yard.
During the morning chaos, Donovan has to make sure he doesn’t do anything to mess up his big day. He doesn’t complain about waking up early, picks up after himself in the bathroom, avoids playing outside with the dog to keep from dirtying his suit, and even refrains from complaining when all of the adults he meets make a fuss over how sharp he looks. He’s the perfect little gentleman who’s doing whatever he can to make his big day better for those he loves most: his moms.
Overall, Donovan’s Big Day is a great introductory story to read to younger children, or to let older ones discover for themselves. Told through Donovan’s eyes, it shows the reader that a family with two moms (or two dads) can still look similar to their own. This book is definitely a great read for those who want to introduce the concept of same-gender parents to their children.
Recommendation: Recommended. Ages 3–7.
Reviewer: Kaitlyn Wells