Groundwood Books Imprint Logo

A Family Is a Family Is a Family

Written by Sara O'Leary

Illustrated by Qin Leng

  • 32 Pages
  • 9781554987948
  • 9.5" x 8.5"
  • from grade K to grade 2
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (see also headings under Social Situations)
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Orphans & Foster Homes
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Parents



Publication Date September 01, 2016

When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all.

One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One has many stepsiblings, and another has a new baby in the family.

As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, it is special.

A warm and whimsical look at many types of families, written by award-winning author Sara O’Leary, with quirky and sweet illustrations by Qin Leng.

Selected for the Toronto Public Library's First and Best List 2016

Selected for the CBC Best Books of 2016 2016

Selected for the USBBY's Outstanding International Books List 2017

Selected for the OLA Best Bets Top Ten 2016

Short-listed for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award 2017

Selected for the Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year 2017


Sara O'Leary

Sara O’Leary is a writer of fiction for both adults and children. She is the author of the award-winning series of Henry books — When You Were Small, Where You Came From and When I Was Small — and This Is Sadie, all illustrated by Julie Morstad, and You Are One, illustrated by Karen Klassen. A graduate of the UBC Creative Writing Program, she has taught screenwriting and writing for children at Concordia University in Montreal.

Qin Leng

Qin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and received the APALA Award for best picture book. Her most recent books include The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin as well as Away by Emil Sher and A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary, which were both selected for USBBY’s Outstanding International Books List.


Star Review

"The broad diversity of family constellations is refreshing . . . A-plus fabulous." Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"Leng's drawings of domestic life are, like O'Leary's writing, winsome but never sentimental. Together they offer a straightforward, optimistic view of everyday modern life." Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"A sweet and tender tale that shows that families are composed of love regardless of how they may be configured." School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

"This book is highly recommended — not just for teachers in the classroom, but parents (and grandparents) in the home." Montreal Gazette

"Audacious and obvious both ... this Canadian import undoubtedly belongs on bookshelves everywhere." BookDragon

"Cheerful watercolor illustrations capture the fun and whimsy of this whole cast and make this book a delightful, unsubtle celebration of difference and variety." Booklist

"Parents will find this book useful in helping young children understand the different kinds of families they might encounter, while accepting and loving their own." Canadian Children's Book News