Anyone who has attended weddings knows that they can be stressful — not simply happy — occasions. That's no less true for children than for adults. Shifts in relationships account for much of the stress. New bonds form as families and friends from both sides of the aisle come together, but that can also lead to a fear of losing close ties we used to enjoy.
Chloe, the girl at the center of Uncle Bobby's Wedding, has always been close to Bobby, her favorite uncle, who takes her rowing, teaches her the names of stars, and flies kites with her. So when he announces that he's marrying his friend Jamie, everyone seems excited and happy ... except Chloe, who's afraid that they won't be able to have the same fun they've had before.
What's validating about the story is not only how Bobby reassures her ("You'll always be my sweet pea") and how Bobby and Jamie start having fun times together with her, but also the uncomplicated and perfectly natural way in which gay marriage is introduced. By the time Chloe says, "I wish both of you were my uncles" and Jamie tells her that when they get married, he will be her uncle, too, readers will have spent many pages understanding how much all three of these people mean to each other and how fitting this marriage is.
This sense of true connection is all the more powerful to consider given the book's history. When it first came out in 2008, it was the eighth most-challenged book in the United States, and as of this freshly illustrated 2020 edition, it is listed by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom as one of the 100 most frequently banned and challenged books in the last decade. It was a New England Book Award finalist.
Sarah S. Brannen, who created Uncle Bobby's Wedding for readers ages three through six, is author and illustrator of more than twenty books for children. Lucia Soto, who illustrated this edition of the book, says that she "spends her days drawing things that are half nonsense and half all sense, the stuff that makes life silly and beautiful." She has certainly brought that playful beauty to this book, which leaves us with the feeling that all is well, even when big changes come along.