The Daddy Machine (1992), written by Johnny Valentine and illustrated by Lynette Schmidt was an early Alyson Wonderland publication.
Two children who live with their moms begin to wonder what it would be like to have a dad. When their moms leave them home alone with a construction kit, they decide to build a daddy machine! The siblings successfully build the machine, but there is a major design flaw — no off switch. After 60+ dads appear, one of the children thinks to pull the plug and dads stop popping out. One of the dads is good with machines and can reverse the process, so most of the dads step back into it and disappear. However, two decide they want to stay and they rent the house next store. Continue reading
Written by Jane Severance and illustrated by Tea Schook, When Megan Went Away (1979), is the first book about lesbian moms published in the US. It was published by Lollipop Power, Inc., a small feminist press deeply invested in producing children’s picture books that challenged gender stereotypes as well as the absence of lesbian and gay representation in children’s culture. Continue reading
All I Want To Be Is Me (2011), written and illustrated by Phyllis Rothblatt, MFT, is a sweet book that affirms the value of gender diversity. Rothblatt uses brief vignettes with text taken from song lyrics as well as emotionally evocative images to communicate her celebratory message. Some of the racially diverse gender creative children depicted identify as transgender while others take a more ambivalent approach to gender identification. Continue reading
Kate Pugsley‘s Mermaid Dreams (2019) is a sweet story about a young girl, Maya, who visits the beach with her family. When she asks her parents to play, they tell her they would like to relax instead and suggest she make a new friend. That’s easier said than done. Maya is too shy to approach one of the playing children. Instead she closes her eyes and imagines herself transformed into a mermaid and swimming freely under the ocean’s waves. In her fantasy, Maya meets many sea creatures as she follows inviting laughter that ends up belonging to a little mermaid just like her. Maya awakes from her fantasy when a child invites her to play in real life. She accepts with confidence. Continue reading
Matt Mendez’s emotionally demanding Barely Missing Everything (2019) explores the lives of working-class Mexican Americans living in El Paso, TX. A teenage boy named Juan anchors the text, which focalizes his experiences as well as those of his mother, Fabi, and his best friend, JD.
Juan and JD are high school seniors planning life after high school, but just barely. They both have hazy visions of the future. JD, a film enthusiast, aspires to make movies and carries a camera wherever he goes. Juan, a high school basketball star on a mediocre team, doesn’t imagine himself doing anything else. Additionally, Fabi, a teen mom turned 30-something mom of a teenager, tends bar to make ends meet. Continue reading
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Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Story Teller Pura Belpré (2019), is an exceptional biography of New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. In addition to accessibly and inventively capturing Pura’s story, the book provides a window into US history. It is also a timely tale of Arts-based activism that speaks to ongoing struggles to secure equal access to cultural representation. Continue reading