Jessie’s Hat Collection (2018) was written, illustrated, and self-published by Nick Barnes. Jessie, the protagonist, is depicted with peach-skin, brown hair, and appears to be between eight and ten. Jessie’s Hat Collection is a story about Jessie’s gender transition. As such, it is one of very few existing books that explore the experience of transitioning from the point-of-view of a transgender boy.Prior to Jessie’s transition, some of his peers make fun of him for looking boyish, which prompts him to tell his parents that he wants to be a boy. They immediately accept him and tell him he can be a boy if her wants. Jessie’s best friend’s reaction is just as conflict free. Even his peers at school, although curious, seem quick to accept him.
There is no character development or conflict. No emotions are explored. Although we certainly need affirming stories about transgender individuals, communities, and experiences, I cannot imagine this book prompting any conversations.
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!