Pride 1 2 3 (Michael Joosten)

Hello friends, and happy Pride! Our book today is Pride 1 2 3, written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Wednesday Holmes, an exuberant counting book centered around the festivities of Pride.

While many public Pride celebrations have been cancelled this year due to COVID, this joyful board book introduces the youngest readers to the message and importance of Pride through the simple 1 to 10 counting book format. From “1 parade in the month of June” to “10 waving flags fly brightly with pride”, little ones can get a peek at a warmly illustrated Pride celebration that features DJs, divas, motorcycles, floats, signs, and a beautifully diverse display of intersectionality. After all, Pride is all about coming together and celebrating what makes the LGBTQ+ community special, with hope, love… and pride.

Wonderful! Bursting with visual excitement and positivity, this sweet title pulls double duty as a primer for the annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and a solid counting book. Each countable feature (people, flags, floats, signs, etc.) are clearly defined, even in the riot of color featured in the endearing, Roger Priddy-esque illustrations. The diversity of the cast is phenomenal, featuring characters across the spectrum of LGBGTQ+ of a multitude of skintones and ability. My only minor complaint is on the final spread, which features a group flying a multiple of Pride flags; some of the flags used are outdated versions, and some do not appear at all. Otherwise, this is a gentle, fun, and inclusive title that was just a blast to read. The length was perfect, JJ loved it, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution. (Rob Sanders)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution., written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Jamey Christoph, the first picture book about the Stonewall Uprising.

Told from the point of view of the Stonewall Inn itself, the building(s), built in 1840s as two separate stables, describe their colorful history throughout the years: converted from stable houses to a bakery, then a restaurant, all as the surrounding Greenwich Village of NYC became known as a place of inclusivity. In the 60’s, the building found itself host to the Stonewall Inn, a club for the then-mostly-underground LGBTQ+ community. It was a place where gay, lesbian, trans, and other members of community could go to be who they were with the people they loved. However, its patrons were systematically harassed by police, who would raid the club frequently. That is, until the night of June 28, 1969, when an act of civil disobedience grew into movement that would define a community forever.

FIFTY. YEARS. That’s how long it took to get a picture book about the Stonewall Uprising, and how wonderful it is that this is the result. The choice to narrate from the buildings’ point of view is inspired – it allows for broad point of view of events that still feels personal and warm, and Sanders manages to endow its narrative with empathy and affection. Christoph’s illustrations are equally lovely, showing a diverse range of the LGBTQ+ community and capturing scenes of protest and revolution in sweeping grandeur. I’m a little disappointed that trans women of color – who are frequently cited as firebrand figures in the uprising – are not covered more (the inciting figure is shown to be a blond woman, likely Stormé DeLarverie, though she is not mentioned by name); however, their contribution is alluded to, both in the text and in the backmatter, which features information on Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera specifically. The length is fine, and JJ was fascinated by the illustrations. Overall, this is a pretty incredible book to finally introduce a watershed moment to little readers. Baby Bookworm approved!

It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity (Theresa Thorn)

Hello, friends – we’re back! And with a book that’s perfect for our first Pride Month review: It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity, written by Theresa Thorn and illustrated by Noah Grigni.

Meet Ruthie. She is a transgender girl; when she was little, everyone thought she was a boy, but when she was old enough to speak for herself, she let everyone know the truth. Her brother Xavier is a cisgender boy; when he was little, everyone thought he was a boy, and they were right! They also have friends like Alex – who is both a boy and a girl – and JJ, who doesn’t feel like either. Alex and JJ are non-binary, and just like there are lots of ways to be a boy or a girl, there are lots of ways to be non-binary as well! No matter what gender someone identifies as, the most important thing is that they are loved, supported, and free to be themselves – doesn’t it feel good to be yourself?

LOVE. Taking a concept that is often overwrought or misconstrued and simplifying it down to its core elements, this child-friendly look at the spectrum of gender covers a lot of ground without ever feeling overwhelming or confusing. Especially wonderful is the way the illustrations explore further elements, such as diversity, intersectionality and non-gendered clothing and play, giving kids and parents even more avenues to discuss all the wonderful ways we can be different. The text can feel a little repetitive in areas, but it’s not out of place with such important and complex topic, and the ultimate lesson is about loving yourself and feeling free to express who you are in whatever way makes you feel comfortable. JJ especially enjoyed the rich colors of the art (and that she shared a name with one of the characters). The length was great, the wealth of backmatter encourages further education, and we loved it. A great way to explore questions about gender as a family, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Pride: The Story Of Harvey Milk And The Rainbow Flag (Rob Sanders)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pride: The Story Of Harvey Milk And The Rainbow Flag, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno, a beautiful and moving ode to the banner of the LGBTQ community.

Harvey Milk had a dream. He wanted all people to be treated equally under the law; to love who they loved, be free to be themselves, and not be discriminated against. In 1977, Harvey became one of the first openly gay elected officials. The next year, he and his friend Gilbert Baker came up with a symbol to unite their community and the people who supported it, and to show pride. They created the first rainbow Pride Flag, and introduced it at a march for equal rights. Then later that year, the unthinkable: Harvey was assassinated because of one man’s hatred and fear. Yet despite his life being cut short, the seed of hope, courage, and pride that Harvey and Gilbert had planted with their flag had already taken root, and was beginning to grow.

Beautiful and moving. Like many luminaries that have tragic – and often tragically short – lives, it’s hard to tell Harvey Milk’s story in a child-friendly way, but this book does so with grace and a sense of hope. As Milk’s life story ends, the story of the flag becomes the focus, elegantly showing how it grew across the nation, then the world, ending with the note that on the day gay marriage was finally legalized in the United States, the White House itself wore the colors of Pride. It’s a delicate balance of history, tragedy, then encouragement and possibility, and it all fits together perfectly. The art is colorful, and the cast has a few very nice moments of inclusion that show how diverse the LGBTQ community can be. The length is perfect, and JJ adored the rainbows. This is a fantastic book to introduce young readers to, not only the story of the flag and the man behind it, but the equality and love it represents. Stunning, and Baby Bookworm approved!

A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo (Jill Twiss)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo, written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller, a delightful story about two bunnies and a Very Special Day.

Marlon Bundo begins by introducing himself to the audience: he is a bunny who lives in a big, fancy house with his family. Marlon’s Very Special Day starts like any normal day, but as he is hopping outside, he suddenly sees the most beautiful bunny, with the fluffiest tail and the floppiest ears, named Wesley. Wesley and Marlon quickly become friends and spend the day hopping together, and as the sun sets, Marlon and Wesley realize that they don’t ever want to hop without the other again. They decide to marry, and happily announce this to their animal friends – only to have The Stinkbug (a bug who has declared himself in charge by virtue of his stinkiness) rudely decree that “Boy Bunnies Can’t Marry Boy Bunnies!” Marlon, Wesley, and their friends question this, debating The Stinkbug’s various arbitrary reasons. Realizing that they outnumber the Stinkbug, they quickly take a vote to oust him from power, and Marlon and Wesley happily marry with all their friends attending. After all, “Stinkbugs are only temporary. Love is forever.”

Viewers of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver might be familiar with this book and its backstory, but for this review, I want to look at Marlon Bundo solely as a children’s book. And honestly? We loved it. The text is fun and filled with endearing storybook language, the characters are charming, the art is positively adorable, and the message of the story is phenomenal. I loved that it not only promotes tolerance for and inclusion of others, but introduces the idea of voting as a means to affect change. The length was fine, JJ loved the bunnies, and it even supports good causes: proceeds go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United. Overall, definitely Baby Bookworm approved!