Summary: This book is AMAZING. The short story anthology focuses on LGBTQ and/or interracial relationships, and truly there is nothing like it that I’ve read ever. These underrepresented voices are compiled into one beautiful book that spans both genres and time itself.
All of the stories in the book are great, but there were a few that were enjoyed most of all. Death and the Maiden is a breathtaking tale, retelling the story of Hades and Persephone but with a twist. It’s one of the longer stories (which is still only about 20 pages) and I was hooked from beginning to end! Giving Up the Ghost was another story that fascinated me. In the story, people are matched up with a ghostly ancestor from their family at the age of 9. This is such a creative concept for world-building, and it left me wanting both more to the story and my own family ghost!
This is a book that amplifies marginalized voices in a powerful way. It makes differences in humanity front and center, and honestly it’s very emotional to open a book knowing that so many lived experiences that are often oppressed or ignored will be written on the pages. We highly recommend this book!
About the Authors & the Editor:
Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.
These images with author information were taken from the back of the book:
Created & Compiled by: Matthew Riemer & Leighton Brown
For ages:all ages
Topics Covered: LGBTQ History, Activism, Global Community, Own Voices.
Summary: So this might seem like a funky book to review since we primarily do children’s books, but it’s really not. Corrie in particular had a favorite book when she was little, it was a giant photo book of the best Life Magazine photos of the 20th century! Being able to flip through that giant heavy book and learn all sorts of facts, look at picture and camera technology develop through the years, and learn about lots of events that were never taught in school was (and still is) very important to her.
This book is incredible! We saw it once in a shop when we were traveling and it was too heavy to take home, so we didn’t end up buying it. The book itself is a huge and beautiful coffee table book and contains our queer history in between the covers. Being able to look back on historical LGBTQ figures & activists is so special. Many names and lives have been forgotten, particularly with the loss of a generation during the AIDS epidemic. Looking back on the work that activists who came before us, and seeing them in action is nothing short of inspiring.
Such time and care was put into developing this volume of photos, we are looking at our past. The LGBTQ community is indebted to those who struggled before us, and without their sacrifices we would not have as many protections as we do today. Our community still struggles today, and Black trans women of color are being murdered at sickening rates. This book reminds us that the fight is not over, in one of the most beautiful and comprehensive ways we personally have ever seen. This book will be parking itself right on our coffee table and not leaving!
This book was generously given to us by Ten Speed Press in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own!
About the Creators:
Best-known as the creators and curators of Instagram’s@lgbt_history, Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown blend striking imagery and meticulously researched narratives to uncover details too often overlooked. With a uniquely engaging ability to grapple with queer history so that individuals and organizations can understand the present and shape the future, Matthew and Leighton’s approach to history teaches, challenges, and inspires.
Described as “absolutely essential” byOut magazine,@lgbt_historyhas drawn praise for for “giving special attention to the often overlooked stories of transgender and bisexual members of the community . . . [as well as] to people of color and people with disabilities, who have been crucial to the advancement of queer liberation but often go ignored.”
Matthew and Leighton live in Washington, D.C., where Leighton is an attorney and Matthew, a former attorney, is a writer and lecturer. They enjoy fighting fascists, spending time with their dog, and disrupting fundamentalists’ worldviews. We Are Everywhere is the couple’s first book.
Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.
For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.
Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.
It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening
to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.
The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album. Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully. In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.
The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly. The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.
The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives. Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.” This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.
We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album! It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.
One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns. It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).
Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.
The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!
About the Artists:
ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love(2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.
With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.
For ages:YA older teens (mature topics-violence, assault, enslavement, death)
Topics Covered: Activism, Historic Figures, Historical Fiction, Enslavement, Women’s Rights, Suffrage, Women in Politics, Women in Leadership, Assault, Death, Indigenous Voices, POC-Centric Narratives, Marginalized Populations, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, LGBTQ, Black Feminist Thought.
Summary: Triple A, how much do I love you? Let me count the ways. This book is PHENOMENAL. Like, I opened the envelope and immediately got in bed to read it and stayed up over an hour past my bedtime to finish it. It is That Good.
This book is the definition of fire, it goes hard and I LOVE IT. This book, besides from being beautifully illustrated, does not shy away from the hardship and inequities faced by marginalized populations throughout history. It is difficult for me to explain the joy that I feel to find a book that centers the experiences of women of color and celebrates their contributions to nearly every movement throughout history. We’re history buffs here at The Tiny Activist, and I derived incredible excitement from learning so many new names and accomplishments of badass ladies that came before me. The book is extremely in-depth and well-researched. The majority of these names I would feel confident in saying aren’t well-known by most of us nowadays, and this is exactly the book we need right now to inspire a new generation of activists and change makers.
This book is absolutely for teens and above, it does not shy away from the ruthlessness that many leaders exemplified in order to clinch their power and leadership especially in a male-dominated world. The book begins with a global perspective on ancient societies and the rights of women, focuses in on the USA, and then returns for a global look once again. Nearly every activist movement is given space in this book, and it is nearly 200 pages. There are only a few movements not mentioned, the Zapatista’s and the Fat Activist movement are two I can think of offhand, but due to the global overview of the book it can still be considered incredibly comprehensive. Since it is for an older audience, Triple A doesn’t sugarcoat history, especially the inequities faced by marginalized populations. It emphasizes the unfairness of Enslavement, Jim Crow laws, and various other historical settlements. There are a few fabulous two-page illustrations showing women of color fighting monsters with names like “Racism” and “Online Harassment” while white women are floating on clouds, protected from having to do the dirty work. This. Is. What. We Need. We need critical reflections on public figures, despite the good that they did for humanity, it often came at the expense of more marginalized populations (ex: the racist views that many white women’s suffrage activists held) Indigenous activism is particularly prevalent, a refreshing and glorious part of this book. CAN YOU TELL I LOVED IT YET? Listen, I know we say a lot that books are required for every shelf, but this book is the definition of that phrase. This graphic novel is creating a new standard for books about feminism, history, and badass ladies.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Mikki Kendall is a writer, diversity consultant, and occasional feminist who talks a lot about intersectionality, policing, gender, sexual assault, and other current events. Her nonfiction can be found at Time.com, the Guardian, Washington Post, Ebony, Essence, Salon, XoJane, Bustle, Islamic Monthly and a host of other sites. Her new book Hood Feminism is coming out in February 25th, 2020 and can be preordered here!
Her media appearances include BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, WVON, WBEZ, TWIB, and Showtime.
Her fiction has been published through Revelator magazine and Torquere Press.
Her comics work can be found in the Swords of Sorrow anthology, the Princeless charity anthology, and in the CCAD anthology of 2016. She has acted as a diversity consultant for writers of fiction, playwrights, fan conventions, and several organizations.
Aster D’Amico is a Queer Illustrator living near Ann Arbor, Michigan, who loves all things tea, historical fashion, and fantasy! She enjoys writing and illustrating comics, which Aster finds to be an incredibly powerful vehicle for storytelling; her main medium of choice is Digital, but also very much loves using watercolor and Ink Wash.
D’Amico graduated with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Creative Writing from the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2016, and have been freelancing since.
Summary: This graphic novel is the next installment in the series! We were sent this book by the publisher, Flying Eye Books, (Nobrow in the UK) but all opinions are our own.
We really liked this book, and the diverse cast of characters can’t be beat. Norma is an autistic POC queer character, Barney is trans, and Badyah is Muslim. Besides this badass trio, there are a range of demons and angels all vying for control of the 7th neutral plane also known as earth. Because of previous events, Norma’s soul won’t stay in her body when she’s surprised. This is both helpful and aggravating as tensions mount between demons and angels. Barney is hiding a secret career from his boyfriend though, but it’s very lucrative. Norma and Badyah along with some demons are working overtime at the Dead End, a haunted house during the day and demon B&B at night. We don’t want to give too much about this graphic novel away, but it’s incredible and Corrie had to start reading it right away! It would be helpful to read the first volume before this one, but not necessary. There are a lot of references to past events but enough context to provide the reader of this volume backstory. We can’t wait to see what happens next, it’s an amazing series with awesome representation!
About the Author & Illustrator:
From the website of Hamish: My name is Hamish Ridley-Steele and I’m a Animation Director and Comic-Book artist from London. Soon after graduating, I directed Dead End, a short for Frederator Studio’s Cartoon Hangover. This lead to me directing two films for Nickelodeon’s International Shorts program, the second of which I collaborated on with Blink Industrieswho now represent me.
In 2014, I self-published my first graphic novel Pantheon thanks to Kickstarter. Since then, it has been republished by Nobrow Press. This year, they will also publish my webcomic DeadEndia which is based on that first Cartoon Hangover short. I really like crocodiles. My dream is to meet one.
Summary: This book is INCREDIBLE. It was written clearly and in a style that shows us the author is familiar with children, and explaining things to them. The book affirms and reaffirms for children that how they feel is more than ok, it should be greeted with love and acceptance and then celebrated.
The book’s characters have several different gender identities and describes being cisgender, transgender, and non-binary in a way that is very easy for young children to understand. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and some of the most diverse around. There are disabled characters, characters with different body sizes, and children of color are very well represented!
The characters Ruthie, JJ, and Alex are described by how they feel inside, aka gender identity. These explanations are very developmentally appropriate and easy for children to understand and identify with. In the back, there is a helpful list of terms for those who may not be familiar. These terms will also help older children get more vocabulary information from the story. Additionally, there is a blurb about pronouns and a list of helpful resources. There is even a note from both the author and illustrator about their own experiences with gender identity! In our opinion, everyone should have a copy of this book!
Did you identify with a specific character in this book?
What does is feel like when you try and tell someone something but they don’t listen?
How can you be a good friend to someone who tells you that adults might have made a mistake when deciding that they’re a boy or girl?
Continuing the Conversation:
There are lots of different things some people say are only for certain people. Make a list of these things, and talk about why people say these things, and if they’re right or not. Can anyone wear a dress? Are certain games only for boys? Who gets to decide these things?
Come up with strategies for what to say to someone who thinks another person or classmate is “weird” or “wrong” for feeling and doing what they want. How can you educate someone that doesn’t think non-binary or transgender people exist?
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Theresa Thorn is the cohost of the parenting humor podcast One Bad Mother and the coauthor of You’re Doing a Great Job! 100 Ways You’re Winning at Parenting. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and It Feels Good to Be Yourself is her first book for children.
Noah Grigni is an illustrator and comic artist from Decatur, Georgia, whose work focuses on themes of gender fluidity, body positivity, and mental health. Through art and writing, they hope to make space for more stories centering diverse trans characters with depth, personality, and agency. Their work is introspective, bold, and playful, using vulnerability as a way to start difficult conversations and encourage honest reflection. Noah’s art is a reminder to heal, a call to action, and above all, an unapologetic celebration of trans and queer love. Noah lives in Boston with their partner, Braden, and their cat, Valentino.
Summary: We got this book from a friend who received a pre-release copy from the ALA Conference! We are so excited to have been able to both read and review the book before the release date, because it was incredible!
King’s brother, Khalid, has just died. He died abruptly, and King’s family is in shambles. King is also trying to reconcile with who he is as a person along with the grief consuming him. A few months before Khalid’s death, Khalid overheard King and his friend Sandy talking late one night during a backyard camp out. Sandy had confessed to King that he was gay, and King responded that he might be gay too. Khalid told King the next morning that he heard them in the tent, and that King shouldn’t hang around with Sandy anymore or people would start to think that King was gay too. So King stopped being friends with Sandy, but King misses him and is filled with guilt about the ordeal.
King is also convinced that Khalid is now a dragonfly, that he shed his human skin and is now travelling the world as a jewel-toned bug. On his way to the bayou to look for Khalid the dragonfly, King runs into Sandy for the first time in a few months and also the first time since Khalid’s death. They have a brief conversation, and part ways. When Sandy turns up missing, King is worried he’ll be implicated if anyone finds out that he was possibly the last person to see Sandy.
It takes a trip to Mardi Gras, letting go of secrets, and a wonderful Auntie to help the James family become close again. Nothing we can write about the book can do the plot justice, and convey the emotion and strength in Callender’s words. Highly recommend, I read this in a single afternoon!
About the Author & the Cover Artist:
Born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen Callender is the award-winning author of the middle-grade novels Hurricane Child and King and the Dragonflies, the young-adult novels This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story and Felix Ever After, and the adult novel Queen of the Conquered.
Kacen was previously an Associate Editor of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, where they acquired and edited novels including Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles, the New York Times bestseller Internment by Samira Ahmed, and the Stonewall Honor award-winning novel Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake.
They enjoy playing RPG video games in their free time, and they really wish they had a dog.
Kacen currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.
Tonya Engel is the cover artist for this stunning book!