Gayle E. Pitman’s This Day in June

This Day in June book coverGayle Pitman is the author of numerous LGBTQ* children’s picture books. Published in 2014, This Day in June, is not her newest release, but it is worth reviewing as it captures a beautifully inclusive vision of a Pride Parade sure to delight young readers. This text can easily be read with toddlers, who will enjoy the multiple representations of fabulous queerness colorfully illustrated by Kristyna Litten.

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Alice Reeves’ Vincent the Vixen

Written by Alice Reeves and illustrated by Phoebe Kirk, Vincent the Vixen is a children’s picture book full of welcome surprises. The story, about a transgender girl-fox, encourages conversations about acceptance, self-awareness, and gender identity.

It begins with several foxes playing together. The foxes, identified as siblings, are seen without any identifying gender markers, such as clothes. They’re shown playing hide-and-seek, swimming, and annoying a grumpy cat. None of these activities are particularly gendered, so at the text’s opening gender is inserted as a non-issue. This changes when the fox cubs go to Betty the Badger’s house.

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Xelena Gonzalez’s All Around Us

All Around UsAll Around Us, written by Xelena Gonzalez and illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, is a meditation. Garcia’s images are digitally generated and seem to straddle the line between spiritual and material, curving into a circle under the weight of Gonzalez’s poetic prose. This is fitting since the text explores time as neither linear nor marked by the progression of an individual, but instead cyclical and communal.

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Rob Sanders’ Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (2018), is an invaluable contribution to children’s literature that should be in every school and public library. Although the story focuses on Harvey Milk, a historically significant figure all children should learn about, it does so by positioning him within a vibrant community. As a result, the brightly illustrated picture book gives young readers a strong sense of the importance of community belonging and community building, while also paying homage to a courageous figure in US history.

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Minh Lê’s Drawn Together

Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê and imaginatively illustrated by Dan Santat, lives up to its clever and dimensional title. It is a thoughtful story about collapsing linguistic and generational divides through love and shared passion, in this case, of art. Drawn Together is a significant contribution to children’s literature that tells both a specific tale about immigration and assimilation and a more general one about establishing inventive ways to connect. Continue reading

Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva’s La Frontera: My Journey with Papa

La Frontera: My Journey with Papa (2018) is a much-needed bilingual children’s book that thoughtfully explores one family’s experience of immigration to the United States. Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva co-authored the text, which is based on Alva’s experience arriving in the United States with his father over thirty-years ago. Mexican illustrator Claudia Navarro’s beautifully detailed images help communicate the emotional significance of the story by carefully capturing expressions and gestures of characters. Importantly, La Frontera does not just make us feel; it also makes us think about immigration contextually by subtly introducing political and economic explanations for the actions and experiences of the characters.

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Celano, Collins, and Hazzard’s Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice

I really wanted to like Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice. I really wanted to, but I didn’t. Several psychologists with a history of working together in Atlanta, Georgia (Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard) collaborated to write the book, which is nicely illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. The synopsis, printed on the back of the book, states: “Something Happened in our Town follows two families – one White, one Black – as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. Continue reading