Pija Lindenbaum’s Mini Mia and her Darling Uncle (2007) was originally published in Stockholm but was readily available in the US at the time of its release thanks to distributors like Amazon.com. Like quite a few LGBTQ children’s picture books, this one is told in the first person from the point-of-view of a young girl, Mini Mia, as she gushes about her amazing relationship with her gay uncle.
The narrator is staying with her grandmother because her parents are out-of-town. She has three boring, straight uncles, who wear suits and eat meatloaf. But she also has an amazing gay uncle she loves – Tommy. Tommy dresses with a lot of flair and is more of a silly friend than serious grown-up. This infantilization of gay uncles is typical in LGBTQ children’s picture books and has become a familiar trope.
All is well until her uncle brings home a new friend – Fergus. She is terribly jealous of Fergus and terrible to him. Things change when her uncle is ill and she spends the day with Fergus happily playing soccer.
The book is well executed with bright quirky illustrations that pair well with the text. It just feels all too familiar. I can’t see children falling in love with the book and reading it over and over, partly because nothing much happens. It is a vehicle for a representation that resembles other LGBTQ children’s picture books about children and their super fun gay uncles.
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!