Joan Alden’s A Boy’s Best Friend (1992)

A Boy’s Best Friend (1992), written by Joan Alden with photographs by Catherine Hopkins, was published by Alyson Wonderland, the children’s literature imprint of Alyson Publications, a LGBTQ press founded in 1980.

The story focuses on a young boy named Will who lives outside of Montreal with his mom and her “friend” Jeanne. Will has asthma which hinders his ability to participate in rough physical activities and make friends. All he wants is a dog, but asthma gets in the way of that too.

For his seventh birthday, his mom and Jeanne give him a stuffed toy dog that he treats like a real dog until older boys at school make fun of him. The toy sort-of comes to life adding a touch of whimsy to the book.

I found this book too wordy for its intended audience. The realistic photographs also date it while offering those of us reading it in 2019 opportunities for chuckles.

It’s a good book to have if you are building an archive of LGBTQ kid’s literature and it is fairly easy and affordable to purchase used, but I can’t imagine many young readers finding the story engaging.

This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!

2 replies

  1. I’m sorry to see this book has some fatal flaws because the idea of it being illustrated by photographs and magic of a stuffed dog coming to life sound wonderful. I’m enjoying your LGBTQ series of posts.


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