Dolls and Trucks are for Everyone (Robb Pearlman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dolls and Trucks are for Everyone, written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Eda Kaban, a wonderful look at the limitless possibilities of nongendered play.

Toys are for everyone. Dolls and trucks, superhero capes and nurses’ scrubs, sewing machines and hockey sticks and mixing bowls and video games and unicorns (especially unicorns because, come on, UNICORNS). All toys, dress-up costumes, and ways of imagining and creating are for boys, girls, and anyone who wants to use their imagination and build their skills. So don’t let anyone tell you that something is only for boys or girls, because kindness and understanding is for everyone too, and in play, just as in life, our possibilities are limitless.

Fantastic. In this marvelous pseudo-sequel to the pair’s previous title, Pink is for Boys, Pearlman and Kaban deconstruct notions of gendered play in a way that wisely incorporates open-minded approaches to play and to gender itself. The simple, enthusiastic text is easy and fun to read, yet also subtly incorporates inclusion that goes beyond boys vs. girls, adding on gender-neutral terms like “everybody” and “anyone” to include readers who lie outside the gender binary. Kaban furthers this sense of intersectional inclusion with a cast of cheerful and affectionate kids with different skintones, hair types, abilities, gender presentation, and even body types (the latter is a rarity, even in books on diversity). The result is an affirming lesson in the possibilities of imaginative and creative play when arbitrary limitations are not placed on the children playing. The length is perfect for a storytime for even very young readers, and JJ and I both loved it. A perfect book to encourage kids to rethink stereotypes about playtime, 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.)

Eleanor Wyatt, Princess And Pirate (Rachael MacFarlane)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Eleanor Wyatt, Princess And Pirate, written by Rachael MacFarlane and illustrated by Spencer Laudiero, a celebration of playing dress-up.

Eleanor Wyatt loves to pretend, often while dressing up from her seemingly limitless costume closet. And her play is never limited by traditional “gendered” costumes: as often as she chooses to be a princess or cheerleader, she easily switches to a pirate, astronaut, or superhero as the mood strikes her. Sometimes she will combine the characters, serving tea on her pirate ship or as a mustachioed cowboy riding a trusty unicorn steed (played ably by her enormous dog). Eleanor’s parents encourage her: there’s no “wrong” way to play. And in turn, Eleanor encourages her friends to join her in expressing themselves in whatever way feels right. After all, imagination is all about exploring new ways to be the person you were all along; to let your “inner light shine”.

Lovely! I am always delighted to see stories that encourage non-gendered playtime and dress-up, and this one was a delight. The story does a wonderful job of showing the benefits unrestricted play: Eleanor’s costumes help her build confidence and courage, such as dressing as a ninja to watch scary movies, and allow her to dream big as a rock star or pilot. And seeing her parade of friends – featuring a range of skin tones, genders, physical ability, and of course, costumes – shows that allowing freedom of expression creates a happier and more diverse world. The bouncy rhyming text is fun and easy to read, the illustrations are energetic and colorful, and the length is fine for younger bookworms. A charming tale with an important message, and we both loved 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.)