Written By: Rob Sanders
Illustrated by: Letizia Rizzo
For Ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: BIPOC Protagonists, Confidence, Social-Emotional Learning, Ally, Friendship, Uniqueness, Being Yourself.
This story is remarkable. I’m so glad it exists, it exists in so many beautiful nuanced spaces and I’m sincerely thrilled to be able to write a review on it.
Blaine is obsessed with all things sparkly, bringing bling with him wherever he goes. Blaine also brings a bubbly and cheerful spirit, known for sharing sparkly shoelaces with teammates and decorating the library with bedazzled posters. He is so kind, and wants others to be happy. I’m sure you can tell what’s going to come next, and sure maybe you can. But unless you’ve read this story you’re not going to be prepared for what happens after that. Of course some people don’t like that Blaine pushes gender norms by constantly sewing sequins on all of his clothes. But Blaine’s friends explain him to others so positively, equating his love of sparkle to their own preference of hoodies and high-tops. Although the whispers and mean comments do get to Blaine eventually, the book veritably shines (pun intended) when his friends demonstrate active allyship and take on the naysayers themselves.
I don’t know if I can truly get across the joy I felt upon seeing this element to the book. So so so often, in books and real life, the marginalized are expected to expend emotional labor and fix the issue themselves by educating others. This story can be a model to so many situations that happen at school, and in the back is information about why being a vocal and active ally to people in your life is so important. We are in an unprecedented time right now, and everyone can step it up to help protect others. We cannot remain complicit when witnessing injustice, and this story is a wonderful way to begin those educational conversations for young readers.
This book was kindly sent by Sterling Kids, but all opinions are my own. Bling Blaine is out today!
Throughout junior high and high school, Rob Sanders had wonderful English teachers who taught him to diagram sentences, speak in public, read the classics, show what he learned in creative ways, and who taught him to write. He wrote letters, poems, stories, plays, radio scripts, and more. Even now those teachers would be considered among the best. He is still reading and writing today. As a matter of fact, every school day he teaches kids about words and books, and stories and writing. Helping his students become strong writers is his favorite thing to do. Now he also writes books. Explore his website and learn all about them!
Letizia is a freelance children illustrator based in Italy.
Letizia Rizzo was born in 1986 and grew up in Lecce, where she currently resides. She graduated from the comics school Lupiae Comix in 2011, and since then has taken part in various specialized courses in visual arts and digital coloring techniques.
Letizia can be seen drawing everywhere (that’s why she always brings a small sketchbook), stalking passers-by from the shadows in order to draw them. Although she’s a digital artist, Letizia’s works always start with traditional drawing. She likes to draw animals, especially dogs and parrots, princes and princesses, and she’s very fond of vintage dresses and bright colors. She also happens to live with five cats and two dogs and, whenever she’s not at her drawing table, she plays the harp. A hopeless tea-addict, she loves art and anything with even the slightest nuance of vintage and period dramas.