REVIEW: ‘Just The Way We Are’ by Jessica Shirvington & Claire Robertson

Published: 22nd June 2015

Publisher: ABC Books, Imprint of Harper Collins Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback, Picture Book

RRP: $24.99

5/5 Stars

A celebration of families of every kind!
Meet Anna, Chiara, Henry, Izzy and Jack.
Their families might not look like your family, but that’s okay … they’re perfect, just the way they are!
From bestselling author Jessica Shirvington and much-loved illustrator Claire Robertson comes a gorgeous, heart-warming new picture book, celebrating families of every shape and size!



Just The Way We Are is a beautiful children’s picture book that reinforces the notion to children of all ages and backgrounds that they are ‘normal’ no matter what their family situation may be like. It encompasses multi-generations, gendered and cultured families of all ages and backgrounds to illustrate that diversity is a good thing and not something to be feared or shamed by.

When you look at families in society now, you never know what you might encounter. For there are families of every shape, size and colour, ever where you look. And yet, if you look at a current cross section of books available to young children, its more likely that you will find stories centred around  an Anglo-Saxon child who fits neatly into the ‘nuclear family’ mould. While I’m aware there are stories that exist outside this mould, the majority that be found easily and locally can pretty much fit into the above category. Until now.

With Shirvington breaking away from her well known YA books and lending her hand at picture books, she has filled a gap in the market by focussing  on diversity within families and the home, whilst also encouraging it. A point I think children need to hear more often.

Just The Way We Are is a diverse picture book that focuses on five different children who come from different social and cultural backgrounds as they explain why their family is just as special as yours despite it looking different on the outside.

We have Anna who lives with her parents and her Grandpa, Chiara who has two dad’s and a pet, Henry whose parents are separated and he has two homes, Izzy who has guardians and is fostered by a big loving family with kids from similar situations, and Jack who lives with just his Mum.

Each child and their family is given four pages to introduce themselves and explain their family and something unique about them that showcases both how special, but also ‘normal’ they are; all the while driving home the message that their family is “perfect just the way [they] are.”

Each child has also been allocated a different coloured font through which to tell their story, which further emphasises their differences in a bright and colourful way, and signals the separation of the various family stories.

Just The Way We Are features bright and bold illustrations of each family and something they like to do together, while also utilising a lot of white spaced throughout this book so that the text can drive home their message more effectively.

As a whole I really loved this picture book and the message it brings to young children who are unaware of the world, and often family dynamics, outside of their own immediate family. It’s a happy, encouraging, friendly look at society that both showcases and praises the unique qualities and diversities of all different types of families.

To learn more about the book and it’s author, visit the following websites:

Jessica Shirvinton’s Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook |

To purchase a copy of Just The Way We Are, head on over to the following online retailers:

Harper Collins Australia | ABC Online | Booktopia | Bookworld | Angus & Robertson | Boomerang Books |





2 thoughts on “REVIEW: ‘Just The Way We Are’ by Jessica Shirvington & Claire Robertson

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