M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (2015), a Flamingo Rampant publication written by Catherine Hernandez and illustrated by Marisa Firebaugh, is an alphabet primer that also introduces children to various aspects of queer culture from rainbow flags to activist-icon Marsha P. Johnson.
Like all Flamingo Rampant’s publications, this one is radically inclusive. For instance, text accompanying the letter “H” reads: “H is for Hands,/ which we use to sign/ our happiness in sign language/ when our Deaf friends march past.” In another instance, text accompanying “S” reads “S is for Smudging. We burn sage to remember/ that we’re marching on Native land.” This is particularly noteworthy because queer children’s literature, like queer culture generally, often fails to account for queer differences, instead erasing race, gender, ability, and class to paint a homogenizing image of the LGBTQ community. Flamingo Rampant’s inclusive publications foreground queers coming together in difference, a rare and welcome representational strategy!
Firebaugh’s bright child-friendly illustrations are warm and charming. They offer whimsy and fill the page with cheer. This is the perfect baby gift for “queerspawn” — not sure what that means? — all the more reason to add M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book to your collection!
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!