Hello everybody! Today, I have a blog tour post for you, with both my review of the book and a guest post from author Sophie Cameron. Onto the post!
A new Sophie Cameron book is always such a treat, and her newest upper middle grade/teen novel is no exception. It follows a girl named Gala, who has had to move from Spain to Scotland because of her dad’s relationship with Ryan, who also happens to be a teacher at the new school, where she’s struggling to settle in. Then she meets a girl named Natalie (who is selectively mute) and things start to look up, until an anonymous bully begins to torment her class, and Gala is accused of being the perpetrator.
Gala is a wonderful character, and I think it’s impossible not to sympathise with how lost and alone she feels starting a new school, in a new country, where she has to speak in a language that isn’t her mother tongue. I studied languages (specifically French and Spanish) at university, so I find it fascinating, and I loved the emphasis placed on the beauty and complexity of words in this story.
On a similar note, I loved the slightly speculative element of words people say being visible in the air, and them all having correlating colours etc. It’s just a phenomenal idea and Sophie wrote about it so beautifully. The inclusion of LGBTQ rep in the form of Gaia’s dad and Ryan also made me really happy, because we need more of this in fiction, to refle the many forms families can take. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and as ever, can’t wait for Sophie’s next book! And now, for the far more exciting part where you get to hear from Sophie!
Kids’ books featuring same-sex parents
My new book Away With Words is about an 11-year-old girl named Gala who moves from Catalonia, Spain to Scotland with her dad, to live with his boyfriend, Ryan, who is also a PE teacher at her new school. While Gala initially resents Ryan for being the reason she has to move away from her friends and family, he’s a great step-dad and she soon comes to accept him as a vital part of their family (along with his dogs, Celine and Dion).
LGBTQ+ representation is really important to me – my first three books have queer main characters, but Away With Words is my first to feature same-sex parents. My wife and I have three-year-old twins, so I’m always on the lookout for books that show a wide variety of families. While it’s still relatively difficult to find stories featuring same-sex parents (and much harder to find books with trans ones), there is a growing number of great titles featuring queer families for readers of all ages.
Here are some of my favourites:
Bedtime, Not Playtime & Early One Morning by Lawrence Schimel, illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa.
These sweet and simple picture books feature small kids and their pets in typical family scenes – a reluctant bedtime and a chaotic breakfast. One features a little girl with two dads, another a boy with two mums, though they’re sure to speak to any families with little ones.
The Pirate Mums by Jodie Lancet-Grant
This brilliant picture book is about Billy, a young boy who just wants his pirate-obsessed mums to be normal – until they get into trouble on the high seas. My three-year-olds love this book and it was the first time they recognised a family like ours in a story, which was lovely to see.
The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery
This fun and fast-paced fantasy story stars Charlie, a boy who finds a mythical “firefox” and is tasked with keeping him safe – and hidden from his two dads. It’s lovely to see a middle grade story where a two-dad family is just part of the backdrop to the adventure, and it also touches on adoption too. The sequel, The First Shadowdragon, just came out in April.
Proud of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt
Sarah Hagger-Holt’s excellent second middle grade novel features “almost twins”, a boy and girl who have two mums and the same donor dad. Josh is desperate to find out more about his biological father, while Becky begins to realise she may have a crush on the new girl at school. Donor conception is a topic that’s affecting more and more children, so it’s great to see a book that explores it.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
One of the queens of YA fiction, Becky Albertalli writes great contemporary stories with very likeable, relatable characters. This is her second novel and is about 17-year-old Molly, who has two mums, a twin sister, and a long line of unrequited crushes.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
HIV is rarely touched on in YA fiction, which makes Full Disclosure such an important read. It focuses on an adopted, HIV-positive teenage girl with two dads navigating friendships and relationships while she tries to keep her diagnosis hidden at school.
I hope over the next few years we’ll see more families with same-sex parents cropping up in children’s books, and also more diversity within that dynamic – more same-sex parents of colour and/or who are disabled, for example. I’m glad to have contributed a small piece to the collection with Away With Words and I hope that it reaches some readers with similar families to Gala’s.
Thank you so much for reading! Which books with same sex parents would you recommend? Have you read any of Sophie’s choices, or indeed any of her amazing books? I’d love to have a chat in the comments!