Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Category Archives: Gender Non-Conforming

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The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein

Cover for The Sissy DucklingHarvey Fierstein hits it out of the ball park with this fun, colorful, funny, snappy, semi-sarcastic book. I laughed throughout this book. From the opening, I loved, “Elmer was the happiest duckling in the whole forest.” Now, Elmer is a boy duckling who loves doing “girly” things including cheerleading, lots of pink accessorizing, and cooking pretty food, which makes him different from all the boy ducks but he is the happiest. He is so self-assured and comfortable with himself that when his father makes him participate in sports, he’s cavalier and dismissive of those preferred “boy” activities in which his father wants him to participate. That impressed me just as his experience of being bullied and rejected by other ducks, including his father broke my heart. I easily moved along through Elmer’s life, recognizing, although the parallel wasn’t forced—how strongly Elmer’s life parallels the lives of so many gay men—effeminate and masculine—who are emotional throwaways from their family and decide to run away.
But there’s a turn in Elmer’s life that men don’t usually get— he gets to be the hero and save his prejudiced father’s life after he is shot by a hunter’s rifle. Even though the duck community all rally around Elmer accepting him and celebrating him as a hero, Elmer declares, “I am the same duck I have always been. I have not changed. I am a BIG SISSY and PROUD of it!” Elmer’s mother and the third person objective narrator tell Elmer and the reader that Elmer is special not because of his difference but just because he exists. There is a universal message here of Elmer being special because of his strength to be himself when isolated, jeered, and accepted; he never bends to try to conform to what the other ducks consider normative duck behavior. This models so well for all children the special status of being comfortable enough to be oneself in all circumstances. I want to kiss Harvey Fierstein for writing this book. What a winner!!

Recommendation: Highly Recommended; Ages 5+

 Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda

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My Mommy is a Boy by Jason Martinez

cover my mommy is a boyOften our best messages to young children are short, simple and honest. My Mommy is a Boy is just that. It is a story told from the point of view of a 4-year old girl about her female mommy becoming a male. This book addresses some of the questions a child of a transgendered parent might have such as, what to call mommy after she becomes a boy and why a person might want to change her gender. The story also reassures the reader that no matter the gender, the parent’s love for the child never changes. The illustrations match the simple nature of the book and remind me of a homemade book which is perfect considering ‘My Mommy is a Boy’ was written by a transgendered parent to express his love for his daughter.

Recommendation: Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Reviewer: Amanda Setty

When Kathy is Keith by Wallace Wong

cover for When Kathy is KeithWritten by a clinical psychologist, this book is more of a short illustrated manual on childhood transgendered identity than a children’s story. It is written in simple language that a child can easily follow but I don’t know how enjoyable it would be for a child to read or have read to them but it would be very valuable to guide a parent and other adults in the life of a child who sees themselves as the opposite gender in the practical steps to take to attend to the identity supportive needs of a trans child. The book starts with an intro to Kathy and the different scenes of her life in which she showed and voiced her interest in being a boy, then moves the reader through the steps that Kathy’s parents take to help Kathy live as a boy at home and at school. At the end of the book there is a short list of resources to support the family with a transgendered identified child.

Recommended Age: 5+ for non transgender identified children; as young as parents feel appropriate for transgendered identified children.

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda

Book Review for My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis (Ages 3+)

Cover for My Princess BoyHeartwarmingly sentimental, a plea for compassion and acceptance of a child who is different and an illustration of a child’s unique life all at once, the reader can feel that this story poured out from a mother’s heart on to the page. Princess Boy loves girl’s clothes and toys. His family loves him and supports him even as others outside the family laugh at him and them. The faceless illustrations make Princess Boy and his family universal. Will you, reader, accept and love Princess Boy?
In addition to being moved by the direct sensitivity of the narrative, the author’s message on the back cover and rear back flap are ones we all need to hear. Written by a mother to educate the children, parents, and teachers who may otherwise have bullied her four-year-old son, My Princess Boy enters your heart and expands it if it’s open and softens it if you were resistant to difference. At the preschool age children are adamantly trying to figure out the details of gender segregation, My Princess Boy involves a child’s senses in the lesson that pink is for boys, too and anybody can like dresses—values that I keep trying to teach my daughter. Whether you borrow it or buy it, it will definitely earn it’s place in your reading space and heart