Virtually Every Form of Human Coexistence

During the week of 21 to 27 October 2013, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books have already been introduced here over the course of the last weeks.
Multifaceted books for children and young adultsWhen my little 6-year-old daughter said to me, “you know, Mama, being gay seems strange to me,” I didn’t discuss it with her for too long. Instead I headed out and bought a copy of Alles Familie! Vom Kind der neuen Freundin vom Bruder von Papas früherer Frau und anderen Verwandten (All in the Family! About Daddy’s ex-wife’s brother’s new girlfriend’s kid and other relatives) since nothing is strange in this book. Every form of cohabitation that people engage in is introduced completely impartially: there’s the nuclear family, the patchwork family and family with gay parents, adopted children and blood brothers. Briefly, everything is mentioned that’s obvious, and also a lot that’s not, though just as important. Similarities between parents and children for instance, or the typical smell of a family. You might suspect this of being pedagogically valuable – which the book indeed is – but first and foremost, Alles Familie is funny. This is at least partly because of the laconic text:

“Some families make quite a lot of noise. They talk together a lot and loudly, they play instruments, fight often, run around wildly, snore and fart when they like. In other families everything is always very quiet. They all speak softly or not at all. No one farts. Or if they must, only in the bathroom.”

It’s also because of the wonderfully weird illustrations by Anke Kuhl, that made me laugh again and again.

Jakob with his various relatives, confusing arrows indicate the relations

“It’s not so easy to wrap your head around it!” Illustration from Alles Familie!
© Klett Kinderbuch

My little one loves the book, by the way, and reads it happily, over and over. And now she only finds families strange where no one ever farts, or only in the bathroom.

Christine Marth, Publications

Alexandra Maxeiner, Anke Kuhl, Alles Familie! Vom Kind der neuen Freundin vom Bruder von Papas früherer Frau und anderen Verwandten, Leipzig: Klett Kinderbuch 2010. 32 pages, 5 years old and up. In German.

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