I’m Not A Girl (Maddox Lyons & Jessica Verdi)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I’m Not A Girl, written by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi, and illustrated by Dana Simpson, a touching and empowering story about a young child’s journey of self-discovery and self-actualization.

The red-headed narrator opens our story by explaining that today is picture day – he HATES picture day, because he always has to wear a dress. Just like at Halloween, when the salesperson and Mom only let him pick costumes from the girl’s side. He tries to communicate the things he wants – like cutting his hair short – but people just don’t seem to listen. The little boy isn’t a tomboy, and he acknowledges that there’s nothing wrong with being a girl – but he is NOT a girl, and nobody seems to understand that. That is, until the day he meets a pair of new friends at the pool who teach him a new word: transgender. Suddenly, our young hero has the words to explain how he feels, and he might just be ready to show his parents, and the world, who he really is.

Wonderful. Written from the perspective of a transgender child, this story of gender discovery and transition does a fantastic job of walking readers through the emotional frustrations and triumphs that accompany that journey. Co-authors Lyons (who is himself transgender) and Verdi do an incredible job of explaining the feelings of living with gender dysphoria in a way that audiences young and old can empathize with. Simpson, also transgender, puts a great deal of heart into the artwork, and while the composition can occasionally feel flat, the emotions of the characters are beautifully portrayed through facial expressions; the final illustration and Easter egg in the backmatter tug the heartstrings. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved this one – it was a great way to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings and have our own conversation on gender identity. Overall, this is a great book to introduce the concept of being transgender, for kids who may be struggling with their own dysphoria and for allies who want to better understand their perspective. We highly recommend this one, 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.)

If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It (Lil Miss Hot Mess)

Hello, friends! Sorry we missed our review yesterday, but we’re making it up with a special Saturday review! And in honor of the season, our book today is If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It, written by Lil Miss Hot Mess and illustrated by Olga de Dios, the sequel to last year’s wonderful The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish.

The queens of The Hips on the Drag Queen are back with a whole new house of glamorous, fabulous performers. With text based off of the rhythm to “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” readers young and old are invited to strike a pose, blow a kiss, and laugh real big with fierce (fictional) queens like Retta Booke, Kitty Caboodle, and Mini Queenie Miney Mo.

Colorful, inclusive fun. Much like its predecessor, this title takes a well-known action song and puts a drag-themed twist on it, encouraging young audiences to dance and move, or (to JJ’s delight) laugh and shout. The actions in the book are fun and creative, and are sure to engage little ones. The rhythm does occasionally stumble over that extra syllable when reading aloud (especially during the last line of each refrain), but it’s easy to adjust for after a few repetitions. There’s less of a visual “story” here than the previous book, which I was a little disappointed by, but the diverse representation of the queens themselves is another treasure trove that makes up for this, not only of LGBTQ+ culture, but of things like skin color, body type, and ability. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ had a fantastic time shaking, winking, and shouting “yes, QUEEN” along with the characters. Overall, a worthy follow-up to one of our favorite books from last year, 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.)

The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish (Lil Miss Hot Mess)

Hello friends, and happy Pride month! Today, we’re reviewing the fantastically fabulous The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish, written by Lil Miss Hot Mess and illustrated by Olga de Dios!

In the world of drag, the hips go swish, the shoes go stomp, the shoulders go shimmy, and the fingers go snap. Introducing little bookworms to the magic, glamour, and fun of drag, this catchy reworking of “Wheels on the Bus” introduces some of the staple elements and moves of drag performers (hair also goes “up”, cheeks go “blush”) to young readers. Meanwhile, a kaleidoscope of fabulous and fierce queens twirl and kick their way through a neighborhood – context clues and Easter eggs make is easily recognizable as the Castro district of San Francisco – bringing energy, color, and joy in their wake.

Love it, love it, LOVE IT. In the grand tradition of drag storytimes, this gloriously LGBTQ+ picture book is a celebration of the art of drag that makes it accessible and entertaining for readers of any age. The lyrics are ridiculously fun to sing-along to, and even more so to dance to; drag persona Lil Miss Hot Mess cleverly chooses actions that are synonymous with drag performance yet easy for kids to imitate (stomps, twirls, snaps, etc.), and JJ and I were both up and dancing by the end of the book. The queens themselves (introduced by their pun-tastic personas on the front- and end-pages) are beautifully diverse in skintone, body type, and gender expression. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ adored it, going back for several more rereads. This is a gem of representation and celebration that any drag fan (or future fan) will love, no matter the age. Baby bookworm approved!

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

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!