Myles E. Johnson’s Large Fears (2015)

Large Fears

Queer-affirming children’s book Large Fears (2015) is the product of a collaboration between writer Myles E. Johnson and illustrator Kendrick Daye. Each two page-spread is a vignette combining prose-poetry, photographs, black and white sketches, and color blasts that provide readers with access to the witty, whimsical, controlled chaos of young Jeremiah’s mind. Jeremiah is a queer black boy who loves pink and wants to go to Mars but his fears are almost as big as his dreams and they keep him Earth-bound. Continue reading

Alice Faye Duncan’s Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968, written by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, is not the story of a single man – it is the story of a collective struggle. Duncan makes this struggle real and accessible to even the youngest of readers by unapologetically representing racism and the abuses of power that are a central logic and practice of capitalism. Christie’s atmospheric illustrations envelope each of Duncan’s interconnected vignettes helping express the shifting tone of the emotionally challenging story that puts American history on display in all its complexity. Continue reading

Zetta Elliott’s Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged

Benny Doesn't Like to Be HuggedBenny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged (2017), written by the brilliant and prolific Zetta Elliott and richly illustrated by Purple Wong, is a sweet and accessible story about the relationship between a boy with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and his sister. At the end of the book, Elliott provides a detailed note about her investment in creating inclusive children’s books. She discusses wanting to write a book about autism with a Black male protagonist because society takes such a punitive stance on Black boys. The beautiful brown-skinned children Wong illustrates, as well as the diverse cast of characters both children interact with throughout the story, are wonderfully inclusive of different abilities, religions, and races. Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged is a much needed text that celebrates difference and subtly shatters stereotypes while introducing a young autistic boy to readers through the eyes of his loyal and loving sister. Continue reading