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‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ to be re-launched in Dumbo

Family matters: Leslea Newman with the new version of “Heather Has Two Mommies.”
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Heather still has two mommies — and now they’re married.

“Heather Has Two Mommies,” the landmark children’s book about the happy young daughter of a lesbian couple, is 25 years old. And to celebrate, its Brooklyn-born author has given her classic tome a makeover for today’s kids, which she will launch at PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo on March 29. But the story itself is just as relevant in 2015 as a it was a quarter of a century ago, the writer said.

“The book has been out of print for a while, but the demand has never gone away,” said author Leslea Newman, who spent her childhood in Brighton Beach and now lives in Massachusetts. “It seemed like a very good time to bring it back and update it into the 21st century.”

Some of those updates include “tighter text,” new illustrations, and the small but significant addition of matching wedding rings on Heather’s mothers’ hands, Newman said.

“They’re pretty hard to see, but if you look close enough they’re there,” Newman said. “I didn’t put anything in the text about them getting married because the book’s really about Heather, and that would’ve happened probably before she was born.”

“Heather Has Two Mommies” sparked heated national debate when it was first published 25 years ago, with some fighting to keep the book off children’s library shelves, and others celebrating it as one of the first positive depictions of a thriving same-sex household. It was the ninth-most challenged book of the 1990s, according to the American Library Association.

Newman said she never set out to cause controversy — but she is glad she did.

“It was never my intention to raise awareness or cause a fuss, I was really just writing a children’s book,” Newman said. “But I think the conversation has been very useful.”

Newman said she is encouraged by the changes in public sentiment and legal rights that have taken place since “Heather Has Two Mommies” first hit shelves. Fifty publishers rejected the book back in 1989, so Newman released the title herself via a friend’s desktop publishing company. This time around, it is being produced by a major publishing house.

But the real sign of the original book’s impact may be if the new edition receives less attention.

“I would like the book to actually not cause a stir,” Newman said. “I’d love it just to find its way into the hands of kids with two moms, kids with two dads, kids with a mom and a dad, kids who are being raised with grandparents, kids who are being raised by single mothers or fathers — really any kid who just would enjoy the story of a kid going to school for the first day and along with her classmates is drawing pictures of her family, and realizing that the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”

Leslea Newman re-launches “Heather Has Two Mommies” at PowerHouse Arena [37 Main St. between Water and Front streets in Dumbo, (718) 666–3049, www.powerhousearena.com]. March 29 at 3 pm. Free.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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