Friday, June 27, 2014

Kid Lit Review: This Day in June

It's a picture book about Pride: something I hadn't realized we needed, but now know that we do.  This Day in June is a winner, and I'm glad that I bought a copy (a hardcover, no less).  I am not going to complain about gay kid-lit, because I'm glad it exists, but I will say that this book is so lively and energetic and refreshing, and it's also SO GAY and even SO QUEER.

The narrative part of the book is a series of couplets, for example: "Clad in Leather/Perfect weather" and "Artists painting/Sisters sainting".  So, clearly, this is not "my family is like yours, but a tiny bit different, but really alike."  This book celebrates not just gay families, but gay culture.  And the illustrations are fabulous, and very detailed.  LB was drawn to the "pink page," and B and I spend a long time looking at all the drawings.

There is also a reading guide in the back that provides background and history for all the themes explored in the book.  Someone in an online group I'm part of recently asked, "what does wearing leather and showing your butt have to do with being gay?"  Well, this book can give you the beginner's explanation.  And then we can all hang out and read Gay New York together.  [There is also a separate guide for talking to children about LGBT issues.]

As the LGBTQ tent gets bigger, and as it become more possible to both be gay and remain in the "normal" club, our shared history becomes less clear.  Almost everything I've read this year from the sort of progressive queer folk, with whom I share some political perspectives, has been wistful-thankful for a world where many of us (more so the LG&Bs) are not so marginalized, but wistful for past of shared politics and culture in the face of a seemingly ever growing contingent that wants to JUST BE NORMAL.  As an adult reader, This Day in June is appealing in part because it's Pride as I would love Pride to be.  It all the fabulous and quirkiness, with a mix of radicalness and staidness, without the cigarettes, cheap vodka shooters, and corporate sponsorships that make me shake my head.

Dana at Mombian has a nice review of This Day in June that puts it in LGBT kid-lit historical perspective.  Dana compares This Day in June to Gloria Goes to Gay Pride, a kid's book published in 1991 by the author of Heather Has Two Mommies that, like me, you may not have heard of before now.  GGGP is no longer in print, a key problem for kids "diversity lit."  Many titles are published through small or non-profit publishers, and if they aren't picked up by a major publisher they are out of print (gone) within a few years.  This Day in June is published my Magination Press, a division of the APA Press which is the press of the American Psychological Association (how far we've come).  Magination publishes books like Full Mouse, Empty Mouse: A Tale of Food and Feelings and The Boy Who Didn't Want to Be Sad.

I read a lot of kids books, and a lot of out of print kids books.  I think This Day in June could be a classic in some ten or twenty years, I just hope it stays in print long enough to have a chance (so you should buy a copy or three).

Short version: thumbs up (and let it be noted that I bought this book with my own money, although if someone wanted to send me some copies to share I would gladly accept).

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