Tag Archives: LGBT

My Footprints

Written by: Bao Phi

Illustrated by: Basia Tran

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Imagination, LGBTQ Families, Bullying, Xenophobia, Family, Love, LGBTQ, Growing Up, Girls Outdoors.

Summary: 

My Footprints is a lovely book that tackles some tough subjects. Thuy, our main character, is walking home from school making footprints in the snow and thinking about how kids have been making fun of her for a slew of reasons. When she gets home, she’s greeted by both of her mothers who were shoveling snow outside. Together the three of them use imaginations to think critically about the situation and if those mean things that were said are true or worth thinking about. 

We think that this book is really important to use as a way to foster discussion about bullying and the things that were being said to Thuy. She’s teased for having two moms and told to “go back to where she came from”. Both homophobia and xenophobia are incredibly sensitive topics that are all over the media currently as well as near to our hearts. Being queer people that plan to have children one day, we are optimistic that things may change but realistic about the fact that there is a very good chance we will be having these conversations with a tiny person we wish we could shield the horrors of the world from. We are white, but we have family that immigrated here and have been profoundly harassed for being different. These are very real experiences that children have at school, and it does no good to shield others from this reality. Having a book like My Footprints that addresses tough times while not making it the focus is crucial. The author does a fantastic job of making Thuy and her mothers’ imagination be the healing power that their family needs. Focusing on the love instead of the hate, we can have tough conversations with those around us to create more empathy and windows into the lives of others around us. 

It’s personally one of the best books of the year in our opinion.

This book was sent to us by the Capstone for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List put on by the Read With River book club. All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Bao-byMichaelTranBao Phi has been a performance poet since 1991.  A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, Bao Phi has appeared on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, featured in the live performances and taping of the blockbuster diasporic Vietnamese variety show Paris By Night 114: Tôi Là Người Việt Nam, and a poem of his appeared in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology. His poems and essays are widely published in numerous publications including Screaming Monkeys and Spoken Word Revolution Redux. He has also released several CDs of his poetry, such as Refugeography and The Nguyens EP. A short story of his, Revolution Shuffle, appeared in the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Stories from Social Justice Movements, AK Press, 2015, and an essay of his was included in the anthology A Good Time for the Truth, edited by Sun Yung Shin, Minnesota Historical Society Press.

f070c83af410a5afeec167f172d086ec92bbee98Basia Tran is a Polish-Vietnamese children’s book and lifestyle illustrator currently based in her hometown Kraków, Poland.
Illustration BFA with Honors, Ringling College of Art & Design, Sarasota FL, USA
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Basia Tran jest polsko-wietnamską ilustratorką książeczek dla dzieci oraz designerką. Ukończyła studia z honorami na wydziale ilustratorstwa w Ringling College of Art & Design w Sarasocie na Florydzie i aktualnie mieszka i pracuje w pięknym, rodzinnym Krakowie.
· · ·
Basia Trần là một họa sĩ minh họa và thiết kế đồ họa người Việt Nam và Ba Lan. Bố mẹ của Basia sinh ra ở Thái Bình, nhưng Basia đã được sinh ra và lớn lên ở Kraków, Ba Lan. Tốt nghiệp đại học tại Ringling College of Art & Design ở Sarasota, Mỹ, bây giờ Basia đang làm việc ở quê nhà tại Kraków, Ba Lan. 
E-mail: tranbasia@gmail.com

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Written by: Mariko Tamaki

Illustrated by: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

For ages: YA graphic novel

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ Relationships, Love, Friendship, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: Super quick read, I read this in about an hour!  The story is told from the perspective of Freddy, a biracial Asian teenage girl.  Freddy is hopelessly in love with Laura Dean, her on-again off-again unfaithful girlfriend.  Laura is a suave, blond, Shane-esque (from the L-Word) character who seems to like Freddy, but not enough to not continuously cheat on her with other girls.  To the reader, it is clear that Laura keeps Freddy around for when Laura doesn’t have plans, or is bored.  She is cocky and flirtatious, often found having trysts in closets with other girls.  In attempt to clarify what the relationship means, Freddy writes to a love advice columnist for help.  These emails are interspersed within the scenes of daily life with Freddy, her best friend Doodle (who is going through her own emotional issues unbeknownst to Freddy), and a few other queer friends.

As Freddy navigates life, and makes a new queer friend that invites her to a party, Freddy also invites Laura.  Laura never answers her texts, but Freddy sees her at the party kissing another girl.  Finally, Doodle calls Freddy out and gets honest with Freddy about how she has been ignoring their friendship because of Laura.  Doodle has slept with a married man, and is planning to get an abortion.  This is a really great story, getting to the quick of the emotional complexities that often accompany relationships and their impact on friendships.  It is a relief to be able to read queer stories where everyone is already out, and the focus can be on other nuances of the story-line rather than the coming out process itself.  Highly recommend!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

81ve7-jjPwL._US230_Mariko Tamaki is the author of the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole and the co-creator of award winning comics This One Summer and Skim (with Jillian Tamaki), and Emiko Superstar (Steve Rolston). In 2015, This One Summer received Printz and Caldecott Honors, the Eisner for Best Graphic Album–New, and Canada’s Governor General’s award. Mariko maintains a solid fascination with the complex process by which teenagers become, or try to become, grown ups.

She has also written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics, working with She-Hulk and Supergirl.

Mariko Tamaki began her career as a playwright and performance artist in Toronto, Ontario, working with fat activists Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off and performing and writing plays for Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a world leader in developing queer voices for the stage.  Her first film, “Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin,” premiered at the Inside Out Festival in 2013.

In addition to her literary work, Mariko holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies and worked for two years on a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology.  Her academic research focused on accents used in drag cabaret performances.  Her research inspired an ongoing obsession with the way people talk. You can follow her on Twitter.

RVORosemary Valero-O’Connell is a cartoonist and illustrator with a BFA in Comic Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was raised in Zaragoza, Spain, but now lives in a little apartment in the ice and snow of Minnesota, self-publishing her books and working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. Rosemary’s work has been featured in comics anthologies, in galleries, and on many poster designs for MONDO. Rosemary’s one-shot comic What Is Left (ShortBox) was recently nominated for two Eisner Awards: Best Single Issue and Best Coloring. Rosemary is currently working on the upcoming Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me for First Second. With her intelligent designs and heartfelt storytelling, this young artist has a bright future ahead.

We’re here to profile #lgbtcharacters who #smashstereotypes!

It’s Day 10 folks, and we’re so excited that the topic of #lgbtcharacters has come up, because as two queer educators, we are super passionate about the representation that younger LGBTQ folks can experience with the wealth of books now available!

To check out our list of Top Books with LGBTQ Characters, read on!


from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea

Written by: Kai Cheng Thom

Illustrated by: Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching

For ages: 3-8 years

from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea is an incredible portrait of what it feels like to be a child in between. Gorgeously illustrated by Way-yant Li and Kai Yun Ching, it tells the story of Miu Lan. “Born when both the moon and the sun were in the sky”, Miu Lan “couldn’t decide what to be.” Supported and loved by their mother, Miu Lan is a “strange, magical child” with the ability to adopt various animal characteristics. This empowering home environment is contrasted with Miu Lan’s experience at school, where the other students are all “either boys or girls”. Challenging gendered expectations, Miu Lan must discover how to express their truth fully and without fear.


Jack Not Jackie

Written by: Erica Silverman

Illustrated by: Holly Hatam

For ages: 4-8 years

 When the two kids’ mom gives them haircuts, Susan goes first.  She wants her hair long, but Jackie urges their mother to keep cutting more and more hair off until Susan yells that Jackie looks like a boy.  “I am a boy!” says Jackie, and their mother is quiet, finally recognizing that Jackie has been telling them something important for a long time.  Jackie asks Susan to call him Jack, and Susan begins to cry, saying she doesn’t want a brother, she wants a sister.  Susan goes to sit alone in her tent to think things over, and brings art supplies with her.  She draw two pictures-one of Jackie and one of Jack. Susan notices that both pictures have the same eyes and the same smile. 


I Am Jazz

Written by: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Illustrated by: Shelagh McNicholas

For Ages: 4-8 years

This book is great for readers of any age, introducing the real-life experiences of of trans youth in a thoughtful, understandable way.  The prevailing notion of living your own personal truth has been a very strong narrative most recently, and Jazz’s story adds her valuable experience. She says that she feels good when she does things like play on the girls soccer team, and ignores kids in her school that make fun of her.  The book closes with Jazz saying she doesn’t mind being different, because she is special and proud to be who she is!


George

Written by: Alex Gino

For Ages: 8-12 years (chapter book)

George wants to be Charlotte in the school play, but the role is only for a girl.  She secretly looks at beauty magazines and wishes she were friends with the glossy images.  These characters are beautifully developed for a young adult novel, and have very believable reactions and dialogue with each other. This book is beautiful, and the unexpected twists and turns make it hard to put down.  The plot explores a young mind from that believable perspective-unsure yet sure at the same time, nervous but yearning to break free.  Character development and tender exchanges between George and Scott were unexpected and welcomed, as Scott accepts George immediately, and subverts the “older brother is a bigoted jock” narrative that is common in a lot of LGBTQ media!

Lee’s Birthday Post!

Hi folks, Lee here!

It was my birthday this week, and I am so excited to see what the new year will bring. My 28th year brought me a better understanding of myself, lots of work on my mental and physical health, and so many more adventures- including the launch of The Tiny Activist!

I wanted to share with you my goals and intentions for the next year of my life, so without further ado, here we go!

2019: A Year of Opportunity!

  • Continue to Chase After Positivity– reframe & refocus
  • Take Time to Reflect– collect memories
  • Share Love & Compassion– spread joy
  • Sing and Dance Often– especially the robot

I also want to share with you a few of my all-time favorite books.

Are any of these on your bookshelf as well?

trueconfessions
Image Description: Front cover of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

by Avi

#1 Baby dyke Lee LOVED this cover, for many reasons that would not be revealed to me until I went to an all-women’s college.

#2 The book’s themes of finding your truth and living authentically were essential to me as a younger person, and are still affirming now that I’m older and (a little bit) wiser. The discussion of class and gender identity are central to the plot of the story, and the radical ideals that Charlotte stands for inspires my activism to this day

#3 What only child living in the suburbs doesn’t want to be a pirate/sea captain?

 

from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea

81Zh4GUK1WL
Image Description: Front cover of from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea

Written by: Kai Cheng Thom

Illustrated by: Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching

When I first read this book, I didn’t understand why it made me cry. Standing inside Drawn and Quarterly on a trip to Montreal with my wife, I started tearing up. Months later, I finally figured it out, and I came out to my wife, family, friends and school as nonbinary. It was a journey, sometimes euphoric and sometimes exhausting. But, like Miu Lan, I knew that despite all of the struggles, I still had people in my corner who would say:

“whatever you dream of, 

I believe you can be,

from the stars in the sky

to the fish in the sea”

my own devicesMy Own Devices

by Dessa

#1 Dessa is my favorite rapper-no, not my favorite female rapper-that reductive business doesn’t belong anywhere.

#2 Her voice is one of a kind, whether she is singing, rapping, speaking or writing. I could listen to her talk for hours. I hope she starts a podcast (and calls me)

#3 Razor sharp wit and an eye for the devastating details make this book one for the favorites list.

Happy Birthday to all my fellow Aquarians-let’s change the world!

 

 

Taproot

Written & Illustrated by: Keezy Young

For ages: Young Adults and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, LGBT, Supernatural, Graphic Novels, Love, Friendship, Family, Acceptance.

Summary: Blue is in love with Hamal.  Unfortunately, Hamal is alive and Blue is a ghost. Hamal works at a flower shop, and also happens to be a necromancer (but he doesn’t know it yet).  Hamal and Blue are best friends, and spend most days together even though everyone thinks Hamal just talks to himself he’s really talking to his ghost pals.  When a reaper shows up, Hamal and Blue expect the worst!  The reaper just wants to issue Hamal a Necromancer permit, and to have him help out investigating supernatural occurrences around the neighborhood.  In an exciting turn of events, the reaper turns Blue back into a human!  Hamal and Blue are deeply in love, and go on more adventures together.

This is a quick read with adorable illustrations!  The plot moves very quickly, and a lot of ground is covered in the short book.  This book normalizes boys being affectionate and in love, and adds a little creepiness with the supernatural elements!  Recommended for a quick read, the book leaves off in a place that leaves the reader wanting a second edition to begin immediately.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Hamal feels when people think he’s weird because he seems to be talking to himself all the time?
  • What ability in the book would you most like to have?
  • How do you think Blue feels now that he’s alive again, and can be with Hamal?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about native plants in your area.  Take nature walk and see what is growing naturally outdoors.  If there isn’t a forest nearby, you can try planting a few  easy herbs in pots on your stoop or porch!
  • Write your own supernatural story!  Illustrate the plot yourself, or collaborate with other artist to create your own comic book.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

91lhZQiw+yL._US230_Keezy Young is a comic artist and illustrator based out of Seattle.  She grew up drawing on her mother’s walls, sneakily staying up late to read by nightlight, and later, cutting class to go to the library and sketch. Any opportunity to con her teachers into letting her illustrate a book report instead of writing one was taken. Although her art is self-taught, she credits Digimon and Studio Ghibli as important influences.
Today, Keezy writes, draws, and designs her own young adult comics. Her stories are cute, eerie, and sometimes dark, but always hopeful at their core. Her work is character-focused, and she uses action, romance, and mystery to explore LGBTQIA characters and themes, since those are the stories she always looked for growing up, but could rarely find.  Photoshop is her tool of choice these days, but her roots in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor show in her vivid colors and atmospheres.

In Our Mothers’ House

Written & Illustrated by: Patricia Polacco

For ages: 6-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBT Family, Acceptance, Community, Love.

Summary: This story details the family life of Marmee, Meema, and their three children. They happen to be the only family with two mothers on the block, but that’s hardly noticeable to their children.  The two women adopted three children from three different places, and the book details all the ways they create a close-knit community and family.  They sew their own family halloween costumes, put on neighborhood events, and take care of the kids while they’re all sick.  There is one family that doesn’t like them, but the kids can’t put their finger on why.  The reader knows it’s because they’re an LGBT family, but very little attention is paid to the hate.  The house the family lives in is at the center of their lives, even when the kids grow up and move away.  One of the kids lives in it after their mothers pass away.  The strength of love and family runs through this book, keen to highlight the ways in which these women care for their children and support them throughout their lives.

This book is warm, inviting, and portrays a family that values each other and their community above all else.  It focuses on the good, rather than the potential hatred LGBT families can receive from others.  The family is diverse in race, temperament, and careers but that does not stop them from embracing each other and working as a team to put on numerous community events and activities.  A beautiful portrayal of a family!

Reflection Questions:

  • What is special about your family?
  • Why do you think that some people don’t like other families that don’t look like theirs?
  • Would you like to live in the same neighborhood as this family?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Have your own version of one of the events that the family puts on in the book.  Who will you invite?  What do you think will be difficult about planning a large event for your community?
  • Learn about different family structures.  At the base of them all, is love.  Families come in all shapes a sizes, even within your own classroom!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

polaccoPatricia Polacco was born on July 11th, 1944 in Lansing, Michigan. Her mother’s family were Jewish immigrants from Russia and The Ukraine. Her father’s people were from The County of Limerick in Ireland. Both cultures valued and kept their history alive by storytelling.

Patricia is the mother of two grown children; Steven, a tenured professor at Dominican University in San Rafael, California. And a daughter, Traci who has made a career in the medical field and also lives in California. Patricia lives on her farm estate in Union City, Michigan.

Patricia has earned a Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. in Art and Art History. She has studied in the U.S., England, France, Russia and Australia. She is a guest lecturer in many universities and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees in Arts and Letters. She has a distinguished record as an international advocate for the rights of children. She has also established literary and art courses of study for young people both nationally and internationally. She has traveled extensively to Russia and has established an art camp in Losovough which thrives today. She has been honored by heads of state both at the Kremlin and the White House.

She is a member of the National First Amendment Rights Coalition and has fought tirelessly for this cause. She is also known as a champion of classroom teachers in our country, a cause sharpened by her association with Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut as a guest author and artist in residence. The tragic loss of both members of the faculty as well as children on December 14th, 2012 affected her life profoundly. The shock of this event caused her to collapse, be hospitalized and undergo open heart surgery to save her life. The grief of this set her on a path of establishing a series of lectures designed to raise the awareness of the plight of our classroom teachers as well as encouraging students to reach out to each other and include those who are perceived to be “different”. She has also designed an anti bullying campaign that has earned her national recognition. Patricia conducts school visits all over the country. She is known as a natural storyteller and is highly praised for her work with people of all ages.

To date she has written and illustrated over 115 books for children,. She is also a playwright and is in the process of penning for adults. She is a much sought after lecturer and keynote speaker and is considered one of the most inspiring speakers of our time

Spinning

Written & Illustrated by: Tillie Walden

For ages: Young Adults and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Sports, LGBT Youth, Growing Up, Women in Sports, Figure Skating, Family, Love.  Content Warning: Assault.

Summary: This book is a graphic memoir of the 12 years Tillie spent as a competitive figure skater.  Tillie’s parents are rather uninvolved in her skating, and she is often at practice alone in the early hours of the morning and alone at competitions on the weekends.  This graphic novel is special in that it focuses on the mundane happenings in Tillie’s life, showing Tillie as mostly unhappy and searching for something better.  The novel shows Tillie falling in love with a classmate, spending many happy moments together until her girlfriend’s mother finds out about them together and forbids any contact between them.  Several years pass, and Tillie’s SAT tutor assaults her on their last study session.  Spinning is a book that can be consumed in one sitting, despite being almost 400 pages long.  Poignant and quiet, Tillie is an interesting protagonist.  Highly recommend this coming of age tale, especially to any young girl that may feel uninspired by their life and feel like they’re the only one around.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you think Tillie feels satisfied with her life?
  • What do you think she would change if she could?
  • Overall, do you think Tillie truly enjoyed skating, or was it just something to pass the time and have a routine established?
  • What does this book make you think about in regards to your own life?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Create your own graphic novel!  Develop your own characters, or base it on your own life like Tillie did.
  • Try a sport you’ve never done before!

About the Author & Illustrator:

TillieWaldenTillie Walden is a cartoonist from Austin, Texas.  She graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies and has published several books.  She loves cats, architecture, and going to bed early!