Belinda’s Bouquet (1991), an Alyson Wonderland publication written by Lesléa Newman and cheerfully illustrated by Michael Willhoite, is a far more subtle depiction of lesbian parenting than was common in the early 1990s. The story is narrated by a young boy named Daniel, although it focuses on his best friend Belinda’s body image.
Belinda is a chubby red-haired girl full of confidence until a bus driver tasked with dropping the two friends off at camp rudely refers to her as fat.
After camp, the children head to Daniel’s house and he tells one of his moms what happened. She gives Belinda a compelling lesson in body autonomy and the difference between being skinny and being healthy. The lesson is brought home by Daniel’s other mom, who tells the children they need to be big and strong to help in the garden.
The cheerful girl heads home with a plump bouquet of healthy, well-nourished flowers.
The prolific Newman has always been at the forefront of LGBT children’s picture books. Sadly, this charming story with its positive message about body image and nurturing wise lesbian moms is out-of-print.
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!