#TBT Gwendolyn Brooks’ Bronzeville Boys and Girls

I was initially attracted to Gwendolyn Brooks’ collection of poems, Bronzeville Boys and Girls, because I enjoy the author’s work for adult audiences. I was not disappointed. Originally published in 1956, when depictions of African Americans in children’s literature were even more dismal than they are now, Brooks managed to create an assortment of poems that represent children and childhood complexly and with dignity and humor. She carefully walks the line between representing relatable emotions and experiences and refusing to abandon the specificity of the urban black community represented.

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Heroes, Heroines, and Everything In Between

If you’re interested in my more theoretically engaged work on LGBTQ* children’s picture books check out Heroes, Heroines, and Everything in Between: Challenging Gender and Sexuality Stereotypes in Children’s Entertainment Media. I contributed a chapter called “A Little Queer: Ambivalence and the Work of Gender Play in Children’s Literature.” I also have an article forthcoming in the Journal of Homosexuality.

Cheryl Kilodavis’s My Princess Boy

My Princess BoyCheryl Kilodavis’s My Princess Boy (2009) is a non-fiction picture book based on her experiences raising her gender creative son. The illustrations are sweetly drawn by Suzanne DeSimone who depicts the cast of brown-skinned family members frolicking on rambling green hills over a cotton candy pink background. It is a pretty book, and an accessible didactic read to enjoy with very young audiences. In fact, I started reading this one with my child when he was only 18-months old. However, it is also appropriate for older children, although there are many books, including Eileen Kiernan-Johnson’s Roland Humphrey is Wearing a WHAT? (2013), Sarah Hoffman’s Jacob’s New Dress (2014), and Christine Baldacchino’s Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress (2014), which I would recommend instead for the five and up crowd. Continue reading

Marcus Ewert’s 10,000 Dresses

Marcus Ewert’s 10,000 Dresses is the story of Bailey, a transgender girl whose family members insist she is a boy even though she knows she’s a girl. Rex Ray illustrates the text, providing the reader access to Bailey’s psychic life by depicting her dreams and thoughts. The only disappointing part of the text is the orange-tint to Bailey’s skin, a color that connotes quite differently in 2018 than it did upon the books original publication in 2008. Continue reading

Thomas Scotto’s Jerome By Heart

Jerome By Heart

In Thomas Scotto’s Jerome by Heart words are paired with Olivier Tallec‘s sweet illustrations to tell a story of prepubescent love.

The first person narrative opens with an image of two boys holding hands while riding bikes. Oblivious to the world around them, the boys’ activity literally stops traffic, disrupting the normative flow of the adult world, much to the chagrin of the scowling drivers depicted in unmoving vehicles behind them. The text that accompanies Tallec’s illustration reads: “He always holds my hand./ It’s true./ Really tight.” Continue reading

Jessica Love’s Julián Is a Mermaid

Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid celebrates gender expansive youth, femininity, and Brooklyn’s Mermaid Parade, which was founded by the non-profit arts organization, Coney Island USA, in 1983.

The text opens with an image of Julián in a pool with five women; one of the women is his abuela. Julián and his abuela are then shown walking towards a subway, while three women with dramatically made up hair trail behind in mermaid attire. Continue reading