Raf is a young boy who loves to write. He even writes at the dinner table where he sits with his family. A family which includes three adults and two other children. Raf’s latest story is about robots, but when he tries to find someone to read it, no one has time! Thinking no one cares about his story, Raf crumples it up and throws it away, but when they finish they’re chores, everyone wants to hear Raf’s story.
Raf and the Robots is an illustrated children’s book featuring an unconventional nuclear family. What kind of unconventional family? Who knows? The three adults in Raf’s life aren’t labelled, allowing chidren to decide for themselves if Raf’s family is a blended family, poly triad, couple with surrogate, couple with friend/relative living with them, of anything else they can imagine.
When I first heard about Raf and the Robots I was hopeful but not excited. Writing children’s books isn’t easy (says the author who can’t manage it), and to do it without introducing the adults as fitting some pre-defined category is even more challenging. I was delightfully surprised when I read the review copy I received. Raf and the Robots is a well written and engaging story. Unlike many children’s stories about non-normative families, it doesn’t focus on Raf’s family. The story is about Raf’s need for someone to pay attention to his story, and how he learns that just because someone says “not now,” it doesn’t mean “not ever.” In this, Raf’s experience reflects what Dr. Eli Sheff found when interviewing children of poly families–family is just a part of Raf’s reality, not what his life is about.
I highly recommend Raf and the Robots for children and families. For children whose families include more than two adults, it will be a welcome chance to see their family reflected in the stories they read, for conventional families, it will show children that other family styles exist, and for all children it’s just a good story.
(Originally posted Sept 28, 2014. This post contains affiliate links.)