The very odd “What’s ‘gay’?” asked Mae (2018) written by Brian McNaught and illustrated by Dave Woodford, tracks a conversation two children have with a variety of birds about the meaning of the word ‘gay.’ Beyond the awkward set-up—Mae asks her cousin Ray what ‘gay’ means and birds respond—the text is poorly formatted, and the illustrations do not reflect a consistent style. The short book is jarring and uncomfortable to read aloud. Although the message of acceptance is commendable, this short picture book isn’t a good vehicle.
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!