Perez Hilton’s The Boy with Pink Hair (2011) is a bubblegum pink drenched story of an exceptional pink-haired boy who is loved and supported by his family but bullied at school because of his unique appearance. The Boy with Pink Hair isn’t given a proper name, instead he is identified by the one thing that sets him about from everyone else.
Before he begins school, the Boy with Pink Hair’s parents warn him that some of the students might mock him for having pink hair and he is clearly affected by their warning. Perez writes: “That night, the Boy with Pink Hair had a wonderful dream, He dreamed of a school where everyone had different colored hair. All together it looked like a rainbow.” The next day he is indeed called weird at school. But, in addition to having pink hair the Boy has a special talent; he’s a great cook! One day soon after the start of school there is a big event, but the school oven is broken. The Boy comes to the rescue by leading all of his peers in creating pink treats including sandwiches, pudding, and lemonade. It is a huge success! And it turns out the bully’s dad is a very important person, by which Perez means a wealthy restaurant owner. He wants to feature the Boy with Pink Hair’s recipes in his restaurants! Not only does the Boy’s pink difference end up encouraging him to creatively save the day with pink treats, he is also able to capitalize on it!
This is one of many tales that not so subtly send the message that queer kids must be exceptional to be accepted, and that their exceptionalism will save the day. If we read the Boy with Pink Hair as a young queer kid, and we have reason to, Perez seems to be suggesting the straight world needs queers to make the world a better place.
I don’t hate hate it but I don’t recommend it.
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!