Cynthia L. Copeland’s new middle-grade graphic memoir, Cub, is an intimate and atmospheric coming-of-age story that follows 12-year-old Cindy as she navigators the hormonal halls of middle-school and an informal internship at a local paper. This snapshot of author Cynthia L. Copeland’s middle-school years takes place during 1972 and 1973 and is packed with recognizable cultural references. Adult readers will likely find themselves chuckling at references to sea monkeys and trolls that younger audiences may not be able to fully appreciate. However, there is plenty of charm and relatability to keep the intended audience of eight to twelve-year-old readers engaged. Continue reading
Nice Little Girls (1974), a Delacorte Press publication written by Elizabeth Levy and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, explores the challenges of being a tomboy, particularly when boyish behaviors are paired with short hair, overalls, and sneakers that highlight how difficult reading gender can be.
When Jackie begins her first day at a new school her teacher, Mrs. James, introduces her as a boy, only to be loudly corrected by the boisterous girl. Of course, the class erupts in laughter at the expensive of both Jackie and her teacher. On the playground her new classmates continue to make fun of her gender expression telling her she’s really a boy, not a girl. Jackie is so upset she holds back tears while mulling over what it would mean to agree with them and just be a boy. This idea cheers Jackie up and she begins to march around the playground shouting “I’m a boy.” Although her peers first think she’s weird, they quickly follow her lead. Levy writes: “Jackie felt good for the first time that day.” Continue reading
Lynn Phillips’ 1972 Lollipop Power, Inc. publication Exactly Like Me is a slim paperback children’s book with an impactful message about disrupting gender roles. On the back cover of the book Lollipop Power describes itself as “a women’s literature collective that works for the liberation of young children from sex stereotyped behavior and role models.”
This book is about a rambunctious little girl confident enough to challenge social norms about what little girls can and should want, do, and be. She rejects the idea of being a nurse or a teacher. instead imagining herself growing up to be an astronaut or politician. This is a fun book with simple illustrations and text. Its poor production quality reflects that of other Lollipop Power, Inc. titles, but its message makes it an amazing snapshot of feminist history! Continue reading
Jesse’s Dream Skirt (1979) is a Lollipop Power, Inc. publication written by Bruce Mack and illustrated by Marian Buchanan. The opening image depicts a semi-circle of ethnically diverse men in traditional cultural attire framing a young boy wrapped in a sheet. The text reads: “There are and were and always will be boys who wear dresses and skirts and things that whirl, twirl, flow and glow.”
Image and text position the young boy, Jesse, as part of a long line of boys and men who wear dresses and skirts. Although not a very enlightened approach to history or genealogy, the awkward first impression shouldn’t detract from the rest of this very good picture book.