On Book Banning: An Interview with Banned Book Authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

In the last year, the US has seen a dramatic rise in book banning. Schools and libraries across the country are removing books about gender, race, sexual health, sexual orientation, and even the holocaust. It’s hard to discuss the rise in book bans without discussing the introduction of bills restricting schools from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity. HB 1557 or the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” and others like it are being introduced in 22 different states.

These bills are said to, “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner”. In other words, these bills were written to allow parents to decide when their children should learn about the existence of LGBTQ+ people.

While some may believe these laws will protect their children, I’m here to tell you that they are dangerous for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they strip access from children who need these books. For many children, these books represent them, their families, and their community. What message are adults sending these children when they say those books don’t belong in school?

The conversation around these bills also implies that adults are harming children, and that children must be protected from the influence of queer adults. We see the lie that queer people are predatory repeated more and more with every bill that’s introduced. It’s a very old rhetoric gaining steam in the mainstream again. Rhetoric that I know to be false as a queer person who writes picture books.

I can’t speak for all queer writers, but I know that I write queer books because I know the pain of feeling “different”, “wrong”, or even just “other”. Growing up in rural Alabama (the same state that just passed their own “Don’t Say Gay Bill” with Bill 322), teachers didn’t read books about bisexuality. Not because it was illegal, but because we didn’t talk about identity at all in my community. In fact, no one said the word “bisexual” to me at a young age at all. I didn’t even have the words for what I was until I was a teenager. But that silence didn’t stop me from becoming who I am today. It didn’t stop my queerness. It just made me feel alone and broken. Today I write the books that I needed in my childhood, because there are still children who need them.

So, understandably, this whole topic has been hard for me to wrap my arms around lately. I knew I wanted to talk about it here, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach it. To my luck and delight, one of my favorite publicity contacts who works at Simon & Schuster reached out to me with the perfect idea. He asked if I would like to interview Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, the authors of one of the American Library Association’s most frequently banned books, And Tango Makes Three.

Title: And Tango Makes Three
Authors: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Published: June 1, 2015
Format: Picture Book

This delightful picture book is based on the true story of two male chinstrap penguins who paired themselves up and tried to hatch an egg in their nest. When another penguin couple laid two eggs, a zookeeper stepped in to save the abandoned egg by giving it to the penguins. They hatched that egg and made their family grow by one. This wholesome book provides readers ages 4-8 with an approachable introduction to the concept of diverse family structures and creates “representation” for kids who might have two moms or two dads (who are obviously humans and not penguins).

Though it was originally published seventeen years ago, And Tango Makes Three continues to be included in the American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books.

Justin Richardson, MD, is the coauthor, with Peter Parnell, of the award-winning picture book And Tango Makes Three. Dr. Richardson is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia and Cornell and the coauthor of Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask). Dr. Richardson and his advice have been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, on the Today show and NPR’s Morning Edition, and in numerous magazines. Dr. Richardson lectures to parents and teachers on parenting and the sexual development of children.

Peter Parnell is the coauthor, with Justin Richardson, of And Tango Makes Three. He is a playwright whose plays have been produced at the Public Theater and Playwrights Horizons in New York City, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and the Seattle Repertory Company, among others. His play QED was produced on Broadway. He has written extensively for television as a producer for both The West Wing and The Guardian; he has also written episodes of Maurice Sendak’s series Little Bear. He lives in New York City.

Justin, Peter, thank you both for joining me today. I’m going to start with the question I always ask. What inspired you to write And Tango Makes Three?  

Justin had a longstanding interest in parenting and in children’s sexual development. Around the writing of his book with pediatrician Mark Schuster, Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know about Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask), he’d spoken widely with parents across the country about their challenges in talking to children about a range of issues related to kids and sex. One of the things that impressed him was the way parents, even those who wanted to raise their children with progressive ideas about sexual orientation, were haunted by the fear of speaking them about topics or with language that wasn’t “age-appropriate.” When we read the new coverage of Tango and her two dads, it was instantly clear that telling this story would give many parents the way in they were looking for to talk about the diversity of families in the world. 

More personally, we were working on having a child of our own at the time. We so wanted to be able to share literature that depicted a family like ours with our little one.

This title has been in ALA’s annual top 10 banned book list 9 times since it was originally published back in 2005. Did you ever imagine your adorable story about gay penguins would get this much backlash when you wrote it back then?

We thought there might be some resistance to Tango from conservative parents. But we never imagined the scale it would reach, nor could we have predicted how broadly the book would be celebrated and defended around the world. At first, there was nothing. The conservative press was almost eerily quiet. Then the documentary March of the Penguins came out. It was a huge hit, and conservative writers pointed to the movie as proof that monogamy was right and abortion wrong. Others countered, pointing to our book and arguing that by the same token, penguins also proved that homosexuality was natural. Michael Medved called Tango propaganda in USA Today, Frank Rich rebutted him in the Times, and the challenges began to roll in. Did we ever imagine that it would become the single most banned book in the United States or that the government of Singapore would decide to pulp every copy in its library system? Some things you just don’t anticipate.

As both a writer and reviewer, I generally try to stay focused on the target audience of children. Because that’s really who these books are for, right? When you interact with your audience, what kinds of reactions do you get from children? Have you ever had a child get as upset about the book as the adults around them seem to be?

If Tango works as a picture book, it’s because it offers children a story they understand and enjoy returning to. Two little birds, different from the others, deeply want something they probably can’t have. They try and fail. Then a kindly grownup gives them just what they need. And their dream comes true. When we turn the page and children see Tango burst out of her shell with her silly beak and feathers, there is always such joy in the room! Most of the questions we get from children are about penguins. Some about how you make a book. Occasionally a child will make the connection to their own family structure, or a friend’s. With older children, starting in the fourth grade, we may mention that the book has been banned. The looks of incomprehension are the most powerful rebuttal to the rhetoric we’re hearing from Florida legislators and their defenders. 

What would you say you learn from your readers? Have any of the children who read the book taught you something?

One of the most moving experiences we had was receiving an award from three schools in New York City where the 5th graders spent a year reading books and together selecting a recipient for award to honor one book they felt honored the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.. We all sat in the gym of one of the schools and listened as students from each school stood up and read aloud their essays about TANGO, of the lessons of tolerance and understanding towards members of the LGBTQ community that it gave them. They were extraordinarily sensitive essays. For us, it was a lesson in how the proper kind of teaching can engender the most sophisticated thinking from young readers.

If you could say anything to the lawmakers who are writing and passing these laws, what would you say?

Please read our book. Just sit quietly and read it. Then meet a child with two moms or two dads and read it to them. And allow yourself to reconsider the effect on this child of eliminating our book from their classroom.

I saw your article for The Washington Post mentioning other classics that should be reconsidered under the vague terminology of the Don’t Say Gay Bill and I just have to say the rule follower in me loves this idea of fighting back with malicious compliance. It’s brilliant! Do you think this could be a tactic teachers in Florida who are opposed to the bill could use in their classrooms to highlight the vague language of the bill?

Absolutely. The dead serious joke of our piece was that, since the law prohibits discussion and instruction about “sexual orientation,” countless books, including Make Way for Ducklings, which depict heterosexual animals forming and raising a family are just as impermissible as Tango. The law empowers parents to sue if these books are taught. Countless frivolous lawsuits over the reading of Ferdinand (“gender identity”) and Make Way for Ducklings seem very much in order. Have at it!

What other banned books would you recommend to parents who want to support the titles that are being challenged and banned in schools across America?

We are big fans of anything written by Robie Harris!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Mutually Inclusive’s readers?

Thank you all for caring about literary freedom and standing up, in small ways or large, for books like ours!

Thank you so much to Justin and Peter for their thoughtful answers to all my questions. I also want to thank my friend, Alex, for making this interview possible and giving me a productive outlet for all my complicated feelings about these dangerous bills and the book banning they are encouraging.

If you would like to learn more about bills like these being passed in your state, check out openstates.org to track and follow your local legislation. You can also find your local representatives at commoncause.org and speak out about any bills you think will be harmful to your community.

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Review: Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle

I am thrilled to be sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2022 with you all again today! Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour and Kaylani Juanita is a beautiful picture book filled to the brim with love, and it has exceeded all of my expectations.

Title: Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle
Author: Nina LaCour
Illustrator: Kaylani Juanita
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: March 29, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl who misses her Mommy while she is away for a week-long business trip, Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle is a great choice for any little ones who are missing someone they love. Though our young narrator loves her Mama, her week just doesn’t feel the same without Mommy around. She talks to Mommy on the phone, but it just isn’t the same. Shortly before Mommy comes back, she hatches a plan with Mama to surprise Mommy when she arrives.

My absolute favorite part of Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle is that it has such a realistic example of the way we process our emotions. When Mommy comes back home, our young narrator doesn’t immediately forget about the tough week she had, but instead works through the feelings she had and comes to terms with them.

The illustrations by Kaylani Juanita are wonderful, as always. As far as I’m concerned, Kaylani Juanita is the Queen of Character Design. There is so much care and attention put into every detail of each character, as well as their surroundings. I think my favorite detail is all the houseplants in the family’s home. I even spotted a string of pearls!

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle officially releases next week (March 29, 2022) but I would highly recommend preordering it today! Preorders are available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Candlewick Press for providing me with a review copy of Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle. I am so happy to be able to share it with everyone today!

About The Author:

Nina LaCour is the award-winning author of several books for young adults, including We Are Okay, which won the Michael L. Printz Award, and Hold Still, which was a William C. Morris Debut Award finalist and won the Northern California Book Award. Nina LaCour lives in California with her wife and daughter.

About The Illustrator:

Kaylani Juanita is the illustrator of several books for children, including the Stonewall Book Award winner When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff. She is also the illustrator of Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon, A House for Every Bird by Megan Maynor, and The Little Things: A Story About Acts of Kindness by Christian Trimmer. Kaylani Juanita lives in California.

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Bella’s Recipe For Success

They say the most successful people in life fail the most. I always try to remember this when I run into roadblocks in life, and today I want to share a book that illustrates this growth mindset perfectly for young readers. Bella’s Recipe for Success by Ana Siqueira is a wonderful picture book all about patience, practice, and polvorones.

Title: Bella’s Recipe for Success
Author: Ana Siqueira
Illustrator: Geraldine Rodríguez
Publisher: Beaming Books
Published: July 13, 2021

Bella’s Recipe for Success follows a young Latinx girl named Bella who is trying to figure out what she’s good at. Her sister is a talented gymnast and her brother is a talented musician, but Bella is struggling to find her hidden talent. She tries baking polvorones with her abuela, but her first attempt goes all wrong. Though she struggles, Bella learns that being good at something takes hard work, perseverance, and patience.

The illustrations by Geraldine Rodríguez are so fun! The way she captures the facial expressions of each character brings so much emotion and personality to every single page.

With Spanish vocabulary peppered throughout, Bella’s Recipe for Success would be a fantastic addition to classroom libraries. Plus, there’s a recipe for polvorones con dulche de leche that I can’t wait to try. My baking skills are not great, but I will take a lesson from Bella and practice.

Bella’s Recipe for Success is available next week (July 13, 2021), but you can preorder your copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of Bella’s Recipe For Success.

About The Author:

Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher and an award-winning children’s book author based in Tampa, Florida. Before Bella’s Recipe for Success, she published children’s books in Portuguese in Brazil and in Spanish for the foreign language educational markets. Ana is also a global educator, a PBS Media innovator, and an SCBWI member.

You can find Ana online on Instagram (@asiqueira1307), Twitter (@SraSiqueira1307), and at her website anafiction.com.

About The Illustrator:

Geraldine Rodríguez is a Mexican illustrator and digital artist who enjoys telling stories through colors and lines. In addition to Bella’s Recipe for Success, Geraldine is the illustrator of Cinco de Mayo and the Adventures of Samuel Oliver series.

You can find Geraldine online on Instagram (@geryrdzart) and Twitter (@GeryRdz).

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Lala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

We are starting the week out with a beautiful picture book about two of my favorite things: kindness and plants. Gracey Zhang’s debut, Lala’s Words, teaches young readers a powerful lesson about the magic of kind words.

Title: Lala’s Words
Author/Illustrator: Gracey Zhang
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: July 6, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Lala’s Words follows a young girl named Lala, who is a bit messy and boisterous. Lala’s mother wants her to be stiller, quieter, and calmer, but Lala can’t help running around leaving a mess behind her. Her favorite place to be is a vacant concrete lot where weeds grow. While Lala hears discouraging words from her mother, she gives her plants nothing but kind words of encouragement. One day Lala’s mother has had enough, and she keeps Lala indoors all day. Lala worries about her plant friends all day, but wakes up in the morning to find that her plants have grown large enough to shade the whole neighborhood, cooling the summer day and showing Lala’s mother the power of positive words.

I absolutely adored the illustrations in Lala’s Words. Everything has a muted grey color scheme with vibrant pops of green and yellow that become more and more prominent as the story progresses. It’s such a genius way to provide young readers with a visual contrast between kind words and unkind words.

Lala’s Words officially releases tomorrow (July 6, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Scholastic for providing me with a review copy of Lala’s Words. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share this wonderful book.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Gracey Zhang is an illustrator and animator with a love of storytelling and verse. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and received her degree in Illustration from RISD. She is now based in Brooklyn, New York, where she can be found window watching from the train when she’s not scribbling away at her desk. Lala’s Words is her first picture book. You can visit her at graceyzhang.com.

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Blog Tour Stop – What If Wilhelmina

Today we’re doing something a bit different! I am thrilled to have the privilege to take part in Publisher Spotlight’s blog/Instagram tour celebrating What If Wilhelmina by Joseph Belisle!

Title: What If Wilhelmina
Author/Illustrator: Joseph Belisle
Publisher: Blair Publisher
Published: March 2, 2021
Format: Picture Book

What If Wilhelmina is Joseph Belisle’s debut picture book, following a young girl and all the emotions she feels when her cat Wilhelmina runs away. One morning when the young girl’s dad opens the door, Wilhelmina darts out, chasing after a squirrel. Despite the family’s attempts, no one can catch her. The daughter worries about Wilhemina and her imagination runs wild thinking of all the awful things that could happen. Luckily, as our young protagonist worries, the illustrations tell a different story.

What If Wilhelmina is a great selection to open the door to conversations about anxiety and worries. I also love that there is queer representation with two fathers, though that isn’t the primary focus of the story.

The illustrations tell the story wonderfully, but I really appreciated all the nods to various famous works of art hidden throughout. This sneaky addition creates for fun rereads, and opens up conversations about art and art history.

A portion of the proceeds for What If Wilhelmina will go to Kids In Crisis, a nonprofit in Cos Cob, Connecticut providing emergency shelter, crisis counseling, and community education programs for children and families facing crisis.

You can purchase your own copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

About The Author:

Joseph Belisle draws and paints, teaches art, is husband to David and father to Faith, and with the debut of this book becomes a children’s book author and illustrator. Belisle proudly runs Lighthouse, the LGBTQ+ teen group at Kids in Crisis. He grew up in a big family in a small New England town and currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where it is also his job to keep up with the real-life Wilhelmina.

You can find Joseph online at: Instagram: @belisleart Twitter: @belisleart Website: belisleart.com

Don’t Miss The Rest Of The Tour!

Follow along at: @blairpublisher @belisleart @averyqueerbookclub @publisherspotlight

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Strollercoaster

Buckle up and get ready for a ride! Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler is a fun-filled picture book featuring a dad and daughter duo who take an exciting stroll through their neighborhood to shake a cranky mood.

I think all my fellow parents know how important time outside is after the lockdowns we all experienced during the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but daily family walks have become one of my favorite ways to take a break from the day, and Strollercoaster captures the fun of a neighborhood stroll perfectly!

With lots of clicks, clacks, and whooshes, we follow along as the father and daughter discover their diverse urban neighborhood with a narrative that mirrors the ups and downs of a roller coaster. The ride comes to an end as the pair arrive back home just in time for a nap.

The illustrations by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay are fantastic! Every page is so fun, from the vibrant colors, all the way down to the font for the onomatopoeia. I love all the detail they put into the neighborhood, especially the Spanish words throughout the illustrations!

Strollercoaster would be such a fun read for Father’s Day coming up this weekend. You can pick up a copy of your own wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Matt Ringler is a children’s book author and Executive Editor at Scholastic Books. To learn more about him and his work you can visit his Twitter @doesntmattr.

Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay have been making art together since they met. Raúl is an award-winning illustrator and author, and Elaine is multi-disciplinary artist and colorist. They are both based in Boston where they live with their son. Please visit raulthethird.com to learn more about their work.

Thank you so much to Little Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of Strollercoaster. It was an exciting ride and I can’t wait to share it with my favorite little stroller partner.

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Daddy & Dada

When Ryan Brockington and Isaac Webster started looking for books for their daughter showing families with two dads (like theirs), they discovered the massive hole in the market for LGBTQ+ representation in children’s books. Fortunately for all of us, they decided to address the issue by writing their own book, Daddy & Dada, and I’m thrilled to share it with you all today.

This sweet picture book follows a young girl named Rumi as she introduces us to her family, including her two dads, baby brother, and dog. Rumi narrates in a straightforward, conversational voice (like most four-year-olds would) and highlights a number of diverse family structures, creating both a window and a mirror for young readers. Just in time for Father’s Day and Pride Month, Daddy & Dada is a wonderful celebration of all families, and the many combinations of people that make a family.

The illustrations by Lauren May are absolutely adorable. The bold colors reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons during my childhood. Lauren truly captured the love of a happy family and brought the warmth of a happy home to the pages.

Daddy & Dada officially releases tomorrow, but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

To learn more about Ryan, Issac, and their family, be sure to follow them on Instagram: @rybrockington and @realisaacwebster.

Lauren May is a freelance illustrator based in New England. Please visit her website at monstertea.party to learn more about her and her work.

Ryan and Isaac’s story really spoke to me, because it reminds me of my journey to create Mutually Inclusive to make a space for all families to find themselves in books. So I want to make sure I thank both Little Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of Daddy & Dada, and Ryan and Isaac for creating such an inclusive book for children to see their families in. I’m so happy to “meet” their family and to share Daddy & Dada with families looking for representation in children’s books.

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Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing

I am so happy to share Many Shapes of Clay by Kenesha Sneed with you all today. This wonderful picture book is not just about loss, but about healing through the creative process.

Many Shapes of Clay is a modern day fable in which we follow a young girl named Eisha as she works alongside her mother in her studio. Eisha uses clay to make a shape that makes her happy because it reminds of of her father whom she has recently lost. She brings her shape out into her neighborhood, where it shatters into lots of different pieces. When Eisha brings the pieces to her mother, she knows just how to make her shape into something new altogether.

I don’t talk about this often, but I lost my father back in 2008. I was 19 years old, newly married, and soon to move across the country when my entire world shattered like Eisha’s beautiful lemon shape. I know I wasn’t the target picture book audience when my father died, but I wish I had this book then. It took me and my three siblings years to figure out how to even begin healing. The way Many Shapes of Clay highlights that healing process through community and creativity is not only beautiful, but a vital message for those coping with loss.

I also appreciate the fact that Many Shapes of Clay highlights loss instead of death. Given the events of the last year, loss is on a lot of young readers’ minds — whether it’s the loss of a loved one, or losing playdates and in-person classes due to COVID. Because the focus is healing from loss, you can use Many Shapes of Clay as a resource to discuss the loss of our “normal” lives, making this a must have for any little reader’s library.

The illustrations are absolutely stunning. I love how the bold colors match both the powerful message of healing and the gentle atmosphere of the story.

Many Shapes of Clay is out next week (May 4, 2021), but I would recommend preordering it today. You can put your order in just about anywhere books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Kenesha Sneed is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and the founder of Tactile Matter, a line of stoneware ceramics. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her websites at keneshasneed.com and tactilematter.com.

I want to thank both Kenesha for sharing her story, and Prestel Junior for providing me with a review copy of this stunning book. I’m so grateful to share it with you all today.

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Grandad’s Camper

If you’re looking for a picture book about grandparents, love, and grief with amazing LGBTQ+ representation, I have the perfect book for you today.

Grandad’s Camper follows a young girl who loves to visit her grandad’s cottage every summer, listening to stories of his travels with Gramps. Grandad doesn’t travel much since Gramps passed away, but that’s all about to change, as our young narrator encourages Grandad to dust off his old camper and get back on the road.

I have never seen a children’s book handle grief in such a beautiful way. There is no sorrow here. This book contains only joy, love, and a celebration of Grandad’s life with Gramps as his granddaughter encourages him to follow his passion for exploring in a new way after losing his husband.

As a queer person, I am so grateful to see a long joyful queer future represented in this book. Growing up, I never saw my queer identity on the pages of the books I read. I didn’t have a name for what I was, much less a future attached to it. I’m so proud that my child will have books like this on his shelf so he will know that queer books can be more than just a lesson, but an authentic look into someone’s full experience as a human.

I honestly love everything about this book, especially the illustrations. They capture Grandad’s and Gramps’ travels so beautifully and really bring life to their story.

You can pick up your own copy of Grandad’s Camper today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Harry Woodgate is an award-winning illustrator who found the inspiration to write Grandad’s Camper after their university dissertation revealed a lack of older LBGTQ+ representation in children’s literature. To learn more about Harry and their work, please visit their website at harrywoodgate.com.

This book is a part of a partnership between Little Bee Book and GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ+ acceptance through children’s literature. To learn more about this partnership and other LBGTQ+ books, you can visit glaad.org and littlebeebooks.com.

I would also like to thank Little Bee Books for generously providing me with a review copy of Grandad’s Camper. I know I will be reading this wonderful book to my little one for years to come.

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Milo Imagines The World

The award winning duo behind Last Stop On Market Street and Carmella Full of Wishes, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson, are back at it with their latest release, Milo Imagines The World.

In this book, we follow a young boy named Milo as he and his older sister take their monthly Sunday subway ride to visit their mother.

As we follow Milo on his commute, he observes the people around him and draws their lives as he imagines them to be. In Milo’s drawings, a young boy in a suit becomes a prince and a woman in a wedding dress marries a man who whisks her away in a hot air balloon.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that as Milo reaches his destination, he is surprised to find the young boy in the suit is going to the very same place as Milo and his sister. That’s how he learns that we can’t really know anyone just by looking at them, and is inspired to reimagine all of his drawings.

Inspired by Christian Robinson’s childhood experiences, Milo Imagines The World is a beautiful story that reminds us all not to judge a book by its cover. The lyrical text encourages us to practice understanding and love before judgement. I have a feeling this one will be an instant classic, and I can’t recommend it enough.

I think my favorite part has to be Christian Robinson’s illustrations! I especially love Milo’s drawings, the way they provide depth to Milo as a character by giving us a look into his internal monologue and his understanding of the world around him.

Milo Imagines The World is on sale next week (February 2, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Matt de la Peña is the award winning author of seven young adult novels and five picture books, and he currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and teaches creative writing. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at mattdelapena.com.

Christian Robinson is an author, illustrator, animator, and Caldecott Honoree base in San Francisco, CA. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at TheArtofFun.com.

I also want to extend a HUGE thank you to G. P. Putnam’s Sons for proving me with a review copy of Milo Imagines The World. This is one I will keep coming back to for years to come with my little one.