Judith Vigna’s My Two Uncles was published by Albert Whitman & Company in was published in 1995. Vigna has authored a long list of social issue picture books including Black Like Kyra, White Like Me, I Wish Daddy Didn’t Drink So Much, Mommy and Me By Ourselves Again, and Saying Goodbye to Daddy. My Two Uncles, like her other titles, seeks to write into children’s books realities too frequently absent from them. In this case she explores same-gender relationships from the first-person point-of-view of a child, Elly, who loves visiting her two uncles. Unlike most books that represent lesbian and gay adults from the period, this one mentions the word “gay.” Continue reading
Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl (2019) is a haunting middle-grade novel that dabbles in the fantastic, but it is real-world drama that drives the story-line. The novel is about two twin sisters, Iris and Lark, who mirror each other physically while having distinct personalities. The twins live with their mother and father, but (as is requisite for middle-grade fiction) the father is absent. He is in London on a six-month long business trip and is only introduced in the text through Skype. The story is really about the girls’ relationship with each other and their discovery of their uniqueness through a forced separation at school. The two had always been in the same class but start the new school year with separate teachers. This does allow them to experience individual challenges while learning that they can have separate experiences and still share a deep bond. Continue reading
The Voyage, by Robert Vescio and Andrea Edmonds, is a visual narrative created to help children reflect on the refugee experience. In this short picture book, moody and atmospheric illustrations take the lead with only single albeit powerful word orienting the reader to the action depicted.
The story follows a family fleeing violence in their home country. Continue reading
47,000 Beads (2017), written by Koja Adeyoha and Angel Adeyoha and illustrated by Holly McGillis, is a Flamingo Rampant publication about a child named Peyton who does not want to participate in her community pow wows because she isn’t comfortable wearing a dress. Her Auntie Eyota acknowledges Peyton’s feelings and works with family and community to help Peyton connect with her cultural traditions while creating an identity she is comfortable claiming. Continue reading
The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans (1991), written by Johnny Valentine and illustrated by Lynette Schmidt, is an early Alyson Wonderland publication full of whimsy and charm.
The first story, “The Frog Prince,” is about a boy, Nicholas, who discovers a talking frog. The frog informs Nicholas he is really a prince and needs to be kissed to be transformed back into his true form. Nicholas begrudgingly plants a kiss on the frog and it does, in fact, transform into a prince. The prince explains that his parents could be cruel and as punishment for a minor offense had permitted a wizard to experiment on him. Continue reading
And Tango Makes Three (2005), written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry Cole, is a Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers publication. The book is based on an event that took place at Central Park Zoo. Two male penguins, Roy and Silo, raised a chick together. It made the American Library Association’s most banned book list eight times between 2006 and 20017, in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2017. Censors, most often moralistic parents, were and continue to be concerned that the book is homosexual propaganda.
Mariana Llanos’ timely bilingual picture book Luca’s Bridge/ El puente de Luca tells the story of a boy named Luca and his family as they move from the US, where his parents are undocumented, to Mexico, where they are citizens, so the family can remain together.
The story is told in the third-person from Luca’s point-of-view as he leaves the only home he has ever known for a country whose language he doesn’t speak. The book captures the generational divide that often separates citizens from non-citizens in homes throughout the US as well as the effects of unreasonable immigration policies on families and children. Continue reading
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. Continue reading