Karleen Pendleton Jimenez’s Are You A Boy or a Girl? (2000)

Are You A Boy or a Girl? (2000) by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez is a Lambda Literary Award 2001 Finalist that was adapted into the film Tomboy in 2008.

It is often thought that boyish girls have it easier than girlish boys. In fact, the idea that girls can more easily wear clothes and play with toys associated with boys is often used to diminish the challenges of being a tomboy. This book illustrates the policing of gender and hurt it causes.

The realistic photos, which appear to be from the author’s childhood, give the text an autobiographical feel. However, they also date the text. For a text with a similar message that children will likely find more engaging check out Annie’s Plaid Shirt.

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!

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