Bling Blaine: Throw Glitter, Not Shade (Rob Sanders)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bling Blaine: Throw Glitter, Not Shade, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Letizia Rizzo, a primer for young readers on how to be an ally.

Blaine loves all things sparkly: spangles, sequins, glitter, and shine – it can never be too much for him. His love of glitz brings light into the lives of his friends at Freedom Elementary School (as does his motto, “throw glitter, not shade!”). So when questioning kids – and adults – express confusion at Blaine’s particularity, his pals are there to explain that Blaine simply enjoys sparkles they way that they enjoy hoodies or high tops. However, the cruel looks and comments of his detractors upset Blaine, and he decides to leave his sparkles at home. Without his glitter, both literal and metaphorical, school becomes a far drearier place. What can Blaine’s friends do to restore his shine?

A smart and welcome look at allyship for little bookworms. Blaine is not specifically stated to be LGBTQ+, but rather gender-nonconforming, which works in both the metaphor of LGBTQ+ allyship and the very real consideration of the prejudice that gender-nonconforming children often face. Also impactful is the fact that Blaine suffers the derision of both children AND adults, a painful yet honest real-life truth. Blaine’s friends eventually show their support by “blinging” themselves out as well, and tackling the difficult conversations with Blaine’s critics on why their behavior is wrong and hurtful. This, along with the backmatter that provides tips on being an ally, is the best of the book, as it encourages young allies to support, listen, and adjust based on the emotional needs of the person they are supporting. And while the resolution of the book is a little lacking (Blaine DEFINITELY deserved some sincere apologies, especially from the adult library volunteer), the core message is strong and extremely welcome. Diverse, colorful art fits the tone perfectly, especially as the brightness of the art ebbs and flows with Blaine’s emotions. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ and I enjoyed it thoroughly. A great way to introduce allyship to kids, 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.)

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!

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!