Barry Wittenstein’s Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove (2019) takes readers on a stroll through New York City that begins at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. The picture book manages to be both intimate and expansive. Although a biography of jazz great Sonny Rollins, his story is deeply contextualized within cultural and political history. Keith Mallett’s illustrations capture mood and motion, each a work of art that brings the story to life. Continue reading
Like most children’s picture books that feature transgender children, Sophie Labelle’s 2013 publication, A Girl Like Any Other, was self-published with the help of crowdfunding. Readers are introduced to a quirky young girl who shares what it is like being transgender in this first-person-narrative which is sure to reflect many young children’s experiences. Continue reading
Losing Uncle Tim, written by MaryKate Jordan and illustrated by Judith Friedman, was published by Albert Whitman & Company in 1989. It is narrated in the first person by a boy, Daniel, who is processing the illness and eventual death of his uncle due to an AIDS-related illness.
The story is breathtakingly painful. It beautifully captures the relationship between Daniel and his uncle, Tim, as well as Daniel’s deep emotions. Friedman’s illustrations, which face Jordan’s text, look like snapshots from a photo album. This technique provides a sense of intimacy and urgency as the story progresses. Continue reading
What Are Parents? (2004), written by Kyme and Susan Fox-Lee and illustrated by Randy Jennings, is one example of a surge of books featuring lesbian and gay parents that arose in the early-2000s. It is deliberate and thorough in its depiction of diverse family forms as well as religious and ethnic diversity. Continue reading
Tooth Fairy, You Have Some Explaining to Do! (2019), written by Denise Barry and illustrated by Alejandro Echavez, is a recent Mascot Books publication about a child who loses a tooth and does not get the visit from the tooth fairy they were expecting. The blond, blue-eyed child with rosy pink skin wonders if they did something wrong.
Echavez’s images are silly and sweet. He does a wonderful job breaking with gender stereotypes beyond the character themself. For instance, the protagonist’s messy bedroom has drums and soccer balls as well as pink notebooks and purple stuffed toys. Continue reading
Written by Lois Gould and first published by Ms. in 1972, X: A Fabulous Child’s Story, was republished in 1978 by Daughters Publishing Company with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast. The short story that became a picture book challenges the idea that gender is a natural expression clearly connected to the sexed body. Instead, it suggests that gender is a learned behavior that restricts freedom. Continue reading
Today (5/1/19) is the official release date of You Can Call Me Katelyn, a fun #girlpower children’s picture book, written by Keri T. Collins and playfully illustrated by Marcia Adams Ho. The friendly and accessible first-person-narrative introduces young readers to Katelyn, a cheerful and confident girl determined to change her name. Continue reading