Aussie author pens kids’ novel to allow rainbow families to see themselves


jac tomlins novel the curse of grandma maple rainbow families
Photos: Supplied

Australian author Jac Tomlins has launched a new children’s novel that she believes is one of the very first to feature a rainbow family.

The author and mum of three launched the book, The Curse of Grandma Maple, this week for kids in the upper primary age range.

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“[The novel] is not a story about having two mums or being a rainbow family,” she said.

“It’s a story about a bunch of kids who leave the adults behind and have an adventure and solve a mystery.

“The two mums part is entirely incidental to the story, but fundamental to the book.”

Tomlins co-founded Rainbow Families Victoria and now works in LGBTIQ inclusion training, including consulting in the Rainbow Tick program.

She said she came up with the idea for Grandma Maple over 12 years ago.

But at the time, Tomlins sadly felt “pretty confident” the story featuring two lesbian mums wouldn’t find a publisher.

Opposed to the idea of changing her characters, she came up with a plan.

“I would give them gender-neutral names like Sam and Jamie and be careful about my use of pronouns,” she said.

“That way, at least, my kids — and kids in other rainbow families — would know the story included two mums.”

However, she ultimately decided to crowdfund and self-publish the book.

“My three kids are great readers and over the years they’ve read literally hundreds of books,” she said.

“But they have never once read a chapter book, a novel, in which they have seen themselves, their family, represented.”

Author Jac Tomlins says visibility for rainbow families is ‘fundamentally important’

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Jac Tomlins said books reflecting family diversity were predominantly preschool picture books and books for older children are rare.

“As queer parents, we are used to changing the sex of the mums or dads in stories we read to our kids when they are little,” she said.

“But you can only get away with that for so long.

“Visibility and representation — of being seen, heard, acknowledged, recognised, counted, referenced — is fundamentally important to the wellbeing of our community.

“That’s why I wrote The Curse of Grandma Maple, so that my kids and kids in other rainbow families could see themselves represented in something they read.”

You can get a copy of Jac Tomlins’ The Curse of Grandma Maple from her website here.

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