j wallace skelton’s The Newspaper Pirates (2015)

j wallace skelton is the author behind one of Flamingo Rampant’s first children’s picture books, The Newspaper Pirates (2015). The narrator-protagonist is Anthony Bartholomew, a young boy with pale skin, red hair, and big glasses Anthony has an admirable sense of style, often boasting long scarves, pearl bracelets, and large rings. His fathers, Papa and Abba, are as perplexed as he is when their newspapers go missing from their apartment. The story pivots around Anthony trying to solve the mystery of the missing newspaper.

The Newspaper Pirates is a fun read, beautifully illustrated by Ketch Wehr. Wehr’s illustrations are richly textured and use color to set the mood for Anthony’s cozy somewhat aimless adventures.

Like all of Flamingo Rampant’s publications, this one highlights diversity. For instance, whereas much children’s literature takes place in single family homes, this story takes place in an apartment, and the setting is important to the plot. For example, an older couple take care of Anthony when he arrives home from school, and it is in the apartment building’s recycling room that Anthony (perhaps) discovers clues about the newspaper thief. Even more, Anthony’s dads are an interracial couple and his genderqueer aesthetic goes against the grain of LGBTQ children’s picture books that tend to represent children raised by lesbian and gay parents as  cisgender and straight.

As always a very fabulous book, this one more subtly queer than most, but just as wonderful!

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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