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
David Milgrim’s Time to Get Up, Time to Go (2006) follows a little boy and his doll throughout their day. Simple illustrations and text make the picture book accessible to very young children to whom the cheerful illustrations will likely appeal. The young protagonist takes his pale-blue doll with him everywhere. His daily activities pivot around homemaking and include cleaning and cooking. 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
Are You A Boy or a Girl? (2000) by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez is a Lambda Literary Award 2001 Finalist that was adapted into the film Tomboy in 2008.
It is often thought that boyish girls have it easier than girlish boys. In fact, the idea that girls can more easily wear clothes and play with toys associated with boys is often used to diminish the challenges of being a tomboy. This book illustrates the policing of gender and hurt it causes. Continue reading
The Boy Toy (1988), written by Phyllis Hacken Johnson and illustrated by Lena Shiffman, is a Lollipop Power Press publication that challenges gender stereotypes on multiple fronts.
The protagonist is a boy named Chad who loves a doll named Dan that his grandmother made him. When Chad starts school, he meets Sam, a boy who tends to police gender norms. Chad wants to impress Sam and doesn’t want him to find out about his doll, which prompts Chad to give Dan to his sister. Continue reading
Max: The Stubborn Little Wolf (1996), written by Marie-Odile Judes and illustrated by Martine Bourre, is the story of a young wolf who wants to be a florist when he grows up. His father, a hypermasculine wolf, is sure he’ll go mad if his son becomes a florist and attempts to change his mind. 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.