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
Lollipop Power Press is responsible for publishing some of the most stereotype shattering, queer-inclusive, children’s literature of the 1970s and 1980s! Learn more about the press and follow my blog for upcoming reviews of their children’s picture book publications!
When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community (2017), written by Gayle E. Pitman and atmospherically illustrated by Christopher Lyon, unfolds in the first person, allowing readers to follow Phyllis and Del as they help transform San Francisco into a LGBTQ*-affirming community. Continue reading
In Barbara Danish’s The Dragon and the Doctor (1971), Dr. Judy, a kind doctor with brown skin and curly hair, parties with a bunch of strange animals after helping a friendly dragon. The dragon stores objects, including roller blades, in her tail. Dr. Judy unzips the dragon’s tail, makes the dragon a bag out of a balloon to keep her things in, and is rewarded with a party invitation. The party is full of quirky animal characters doodled by Danish. At the party Dr. Judy helps Lucy, a yellow animal (perhaps a hedgehog) who has chicken pox. Dr. June and her dragon friend race Lucy home, where she is cared for by two moms. Continue reading