Jamie is Jamie: A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Way (2018), written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade, is the story of a non-binary child named Jamie’s first day at a new school.
Jamie has a gender ambiguous name, appearance, and choice in play. When they arrive at their new school wearing a red and white striped top with purple pants and red shoes, their brown hair cut short, their new peers end up reading their gender through their play preferences.
The girl Jamie plays dolls with assumes they are a girl, the boy they play superhero with assumes they are a boy, and on and on down the list of boys and girls in Jamie’s class. Although the students cannot agree on Jamie’s gender, they all agree Jamie is fun! Even more, Jamie’s ability to step outside of binary gender expressions inspires their peers. The next day at school the boys and girls play together.
I love this book for its accessibility, ability to teach without appearing too didactic, and exploration of non-binary gender. I also liked that Bogade created a diverse group of students, including a girl in a hijab as well as black and Latinx students. Most importantly, Jamie’s behaviors influence other students who begin playing outside of narrowly prescribed options. I really appreciated Moradian’s willingness to let the queer child challenge and change the straight world. All too often it is the straight world that begrudgingly tolerates the queer kid.
This is a great book – perfect for personal and school libraries. It’s part of an emerging trend in children’s literature to show gender identity and expression in all its nuance. The creators did a wonderful job!
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!