Thanks to today’s guest author, Max Goodman, who also wrote The Secret Life of Lilykins, which is a book my girls fell in love with at first read! I asked Max to tell us a bit more about this special book and why he wrote it. Be sure to check out the book for yourself!
As a kid growing up in Queens, NY, I lived in what was probably one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the entire world. My friends and classmates, many who were recent immigrants to this country, came in all colors and from what seemed like virtually every part of the world. Where I grew up, diversity wasn’t just about ethnic origin; there was also an amazing amount of variety in the kinds of families in which kids were being raised. Thinking back to my two closest childhood friends, one was raised by both his mother and grandparents, who all lived in the same apartment building. The other friend was raised by his adoptive parents who had decided to start a family in their 50s. Whether it was single-parent homes or multi-generational households, these “nontraditional” family units were so common where I grew up that they seemed as normal as any notion of a typical nuclear American family.
The only sort of families I didn’t see when I was growing up were ones with same-sex parents. Now, this was back in the 1980s, a virtual lifetime ago in terms of public perception and acceptance of gay people. The truth is that there have always been gay parents; sadly, these people had to keep their sexuality a secret for fear of being judged or rejected by their families and communities. Back then, there were few visible real-world examples of same-sex couples with children, much less representations of these kinds of families in children’s literature.
Fast-forward to the 1990s, when there was an increasing demand for kid’s books with characters and storylines that were more inclusive and more relatable for all types of children, including kids with same-sex parents. A well-known example of this attempt for inclusivity was with the book “Heather Has Two Mommies.” While this story of a little girl being raised by a lesbian couple helped to start an important conversation about different types of families, it was also met with fear and anger by many people. Accusations of some sort of “gay agenda” being forced on the general public lead to protests and outright bans of the book in some libraries and school districts. But while some people just weren’t ready 25 years ago for a book like “Heather Has Two Mommies,” it most certainly paved the way for greater visibility of same-sex parents in popular culture.
My book, The Secret Life of Lilykins, features a same-sex couple, but it’s not a story about gay parents or different kinds of families. In fact, it’s not really even about people. The central character is a house cat whose wild imagination takes her on some pretty amazing adventures. And while the book is most definitely a work of fiction, the inspiration for it is based on my own everyday life. There really is a cat named Lily (who often acts like she’s possessed), her brother Charlie (who always tries to steal Lily’s food), and their two “Daddies” (my husband and I) who make brief appearances at the beginning and ending of the book. My goal with this book has always been to show children what powerful tools their creativity and imagination can be — but if my story can also show kids that same-sex couples and same-sex parents are as normal as everyone else, well then that’s just icing on the cake.
Society’s views on different kinds of families have changed a lot since I was a kid. My hope is that we’ve arrived at a point where a child can read a story about a wacky cat with two Daddies, and that child doesn’t think twice about a home with same-sex parents because it’s simply become a non-issue.
About the Author:
Max Goodman lives in New York City with his husband and two very important cats. By day, he works as an advertising copywriter. The Secret Life of Lilykins is Max’s first book. The Secret Life of Lilykins is currently available in paperback via IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace, and in both paperback and Kindle editions via Amazon. Find The Secret Life of Lilykins on the web at http://lilykinsbook.com/