Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić

One of the hardest concepts for kids to grasp is understanding how they are related to all their relatives. There are uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, maternal and paternal siblings who are also aunts and uncles, moms and dads who are also grandmas and grandpas, and now, as families become more and more diverse, it can be even more confusing.  Kids must sometimes wonder how do they all fit together?  It's easy to understand why kids can get confused and why they usually get a genealogy assignment in 2nd or 3rd grade when they are more ready to grasp relationships in the family context.

Well, now there's a book that can help all that.  My Family Tree and Me explores one boy's family.  The exploration begins three generations back with his  father's great-great-grandparents and shows how that ultimately led to his uncle, his aunt and his dad, who married and had him.

At the center of the book, is the most wonderful illustration of the young boy's family, as it look in the present.  Each person and their relationship to the boy is clearly labeled so it can be read beginning with the boy, up to his parents, then out to the rest of this now very diverse extended family.

But of course, a family consists of two sides, not just the dad's side, so if you go to the back of the book, the boy introduces this mother's side of the family, beginning with his maternal great-great-grandparents, through to his mom's parents and, of course, our young narrator, and his brother and his sister.

The two sides of this family are mirror images in terms of how they are related to the young narrator, but now, they also reflect the cultural diversity among his relatives who are of European descent on his father's side and Asian, specifically Chinese, on his mother's side.  But, there is also an gay uncle with his partner, and a Chinese aunt married to an African American. This extended family is an interesting patchwork, reflective of many of the changes in American families in today's world.

The author/illustrator clearly gave a great deal of to My Family Tree and Me.  As each generation is introduced, there is a photo in that illustration that connects back to the generation that came before it, acting like a red thread running through the family.  The whimsical illustrations, done in pencil and watercolor, are quite detailed and will give young readers lots to explore and learn about on each page.

I loved this book and read it several times.  I thought the way a sometimes complex topic was made relatively simple made it easily accessible to young readers.  I even bought a copy for my Kiddo, whose own family is as diverse as the family in this story.  And what a boon for teachers.  I always gave my student's a genealogy project to do and many were surprised to find out what their family tree looked like on paper.  The trailer gives a real sense of this book and how useful it can be as a teaching tool:

I can't recommend this book highly enough!

This book is recommended for readers age 5+
This book was purchased for my personal library


  1. Looks and sounds very interesting! I like that the boy's parents are of different cultural backgrounds.

    1. I like that, too. The way this boy's family became so diverse reminds me of my own family and how it adds so much to family life.


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