Written by Lois Gould and first published by Ms. in 1972, X: A Fabulous Child’s Story, was republished in 1978 by Daughters Publishing Company with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast. The short story that became a picture book challenges the idea that gender is a natural expression clearly connected to the sexed body. Instead, it suggests that gender is a learned behavior that restricts freedom. Continue reading
Jesse’s Dream Skirt (1979) is a Lollipop Power, Inc. publication written by Bruce Mack and illustrated by Marian Buchanan. The opening image depicts a semi-circle of ethnically diverse men in traditional cultural attire framing a young boy wrapped in a sheet. The text reads: “There are and were and always will be boys who wear dresses and skirts and things that whirl, twirl, flow and glow.”
Image and text position the young boy, Jesse, as part of a long line of boys and men who wear dresses and skirts. Although not a very enlightened approach to history or genealogy, the awkward first impression shouldn’t detract from the rest of this very good picture book.
Saturday is Patty Day (1993), written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Annette Hegel, is one of the earliest children’s picture books to deal with lesbian parenting and divorce. Newman does a wonderful job creating a teachable text that accounts for the challenges of seperation. I particularly appreciate her sensitive focus on the feelings of Frankie, the young child whose parents are divorcing. At every turn, the story rings true, and even 25+ years after it was originally published, Saturday is Patty Day is a good book to support parents, lesbian or not, in helping their children process divorce. Continue reading
A Church for All (2018), written by Gayle E. Pitman and illustrated by Laure Fournier, is a charming tale about LGBTQ spirituality that is influenced by one church’s social justice approach to religion. In an informative end note, Pitman describes attending Glide Memorial Church, the church that inspires the book, at the suggestion of a friend. She writes: “For the first time I found a spiritual community that fully accepted and embraced LGBTQ people.” Continue reading
Kit Mallory’s dystopian young adult novel, Blackout, is full of as much stellar character development as it is breathless action. Mallory delivers the story with a sense of urgency but doesn’t neglect character backstory or the events informing the text’s destitute politics. This leaves the reader feeling like they’ve spent far more than mere hours getting to know the characters and inhabiting their world. Continue reading
Andrew Wheeler has edited a brilliant collection of eighteen LGBTQ2SIA+ comics targeted to a teen audience. This much needed anthology, Shout Out, begins with a thoughtful foreword by Nalo Hopkinson who testifies to the significance of the collection for queer teens who rarely see representation of gender and sexuality that mirror their identities and experiences.
Most of the comics tell cotton candy sweet love stories and Hopkinson notes she was at first critical of this idealistic picture of queer love. But she then exhaled and realized the stories made her happy. She writes: Continue reading
All Families Invited (2019), written by Kathleen Goodman and illustrated by Jo Edwards, is a thoughtful look at the exclusivity of gendered school events, in this instance father-daughter dances.
The protagonist, Annabel, lives with her mother and does not have a father. Annabel soon realizes she isn’t alone. One of her friends lives with his two moms, another with an aunt and uncle; all three children are excluded from the dance. Annabel knows it isn’t right to exclude so many children and families. Continue reading