Square Zair Pair (2015), written by Jase Peeples and illustrated by Christine Knopp, is a quirky picture book reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. The story takes place in Hanamandoo, a fantasy world inhabited by Zairs. Zairs hatch from eggs that grow from vines. Some are tall and square; others are short and round. Round and square Zairs always form a pair by attaching tails. Continue reading
Muhammad Ali, written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Brosmind is an inspiring addition to Frances Lincoln Children’s Books’ Little People, BIG DREAMS series. The short and accessible biography takes readers on a fast-paced and informative journey into the life of famous boxer Muhammad Ali. In addition to his boxing fame, the board book acknowledges Ali’s civil rights activism, conversion to Islam, refusal to fight in Vietnam, and post-retirement charity work. Like other books in the series, Muhammad Ali, provides enough detail to be engaging without overwhelming its young audience. I recommend this book for children between 2- and 5-years-old. This will make a valuable addition to personal and school libraries.
The Gender Wheel (2017), written and illustrated by Maya Gonzalez, introduces readers to gender diversity through the concept of a “gender wheel.” Gonzalez’s images are warm and inviting. She illustrates her characters in a range of skin-tones with a variety of gender expressions.
The commendable purpose of the book is to teach children to understand gender outside of a binary model. Continue reading
Pink is for Boys (2018), written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Eda Kaban works to disrupt the idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. It does this through simple prose and bright, fun illustrations. Several colors, including pink, green, blue, and purple, are explored over a pair of two-page spreads. The first spread assures readers that x color is for girls and boys. The second spread reinforces the message. Continue reading
Santa’s Husband (2017), written by Daniel Kibblesmith and illustrated by A P Quach, reimagines Santa and his partner as an interracial gay couple. Santa Claus, a black man, and his white partner, David, live in the North Pole, check the naughty/nice list twice, and take care of all the reindeer. The idea that some people don’t like a gay black Santa is introduced but it’s noted that people have always imagined Santa in different ways. Continue reading
Donovan’s Big Day (2011), written by the prolific and talented Lesléa Newman and charmingly illustrated by Mike Dutton, unfolds from the point-of-view of a young boy excitedly getting ready for his moms’ wedding ceremony.
Donovan is about nine-years-old with brown hair, green eyes, and pale white skin. His boyish bedroom is sparsely decorated but full of toys. It is here that the reader is introduced to the cheerful child who has a big day ahead of him. Continue reading
When Kayla was Kyle (2013), written by Amy Fabrikant and illustrated by Jennifer Levine, is a thoughtful book about an unhappy transgender child who bravely confides her gender identity to her parents and begins to transition.
At the start of the book, Kayla’s father polices her gender by pressuring her to play basketball with boys even though she is clearly uncomfortable with masculine gender expression. Although her mother is loving she does not understand what Kayla is experiencing and is unable to support her. Continue reading