Monday, December 22, 2014

Sarah's Top Ten Books of 2014 (Because Picking Just Five is A Fool's Errand)

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince (Zest, $16)
Sweet, funny, and poignant. This autobiographical comic tells Liz's story without pandering or over-explaining. This book was so good that I wanted to flip a table and run down the street pumping my arms in victory after I finished it.

Buck by MK Asante (Spiegel & Grau, $15)
I put this on another top five this year, but I don't even care. Buck is so good. It could be set anywhere, but Asante captures the voice of Philly so clearly that you can hear the accent when you're reading it. I'm a total sucker for any story where books rescue the main character from other sources of conflict.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth, $15)
Certainly one of the most beautiful books I've ever read; the setting and the characters leap off the page and into your heart and head. Overall, this is a story of war, a love story, and a story about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Griffin $19)
I love story about two kids from opposite lives who save each other. This book made me feel swoony and weepy and hopeful all at once.

Queer and Trans Artists of Color by Nia King (CreateSpace $22.95)
This is the most important book I read all year. Each one of the interviews has some nugget of wisdom that everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, will relate to. Especially if you make art, like art, or spend any amount of time thinking about your place in the world and what you can do to make it better.

Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer (Zest, $16)
This zine is a collection of comics, illustrated lists, and writings about the author's move from a small rural town to a big city college. A great gift for people who are starting high school or college, or going through any major changes.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead, $16)
This book is just everything. It's the story about Oscar, a romantic Dominican nerd with no game. It's not just about Oscar's life, but about his family and how he is the culmination of many years and people. Junot Diaz could write cereal boxes, and I'd be psyched to read them. He's just that great.

Every Day by David Levithan (Ember, $10)
Super romantic story about a person who wakes up in a different body every day and the challenges that it creates when wooing the object of his/her affection. Really beautifully written.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Broadway, $15)
This book full of loathsome characters will make you gasp with shock. Read the book before you see the movie and see how well it lives up to the hype.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney (Gotham, $20)
This is a brave, gorgeous comic about Ellen Forney's experience being diagnosed with and treated for bipolar disorder. Regardless of mental health status, it's easy to relate to the author's struggle to balance stability with creative passions.

Sarah Rose, December 2014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Great QUILTBAG* (Queer, etc.) Books for Kids and Teens

*QUILTBAG is an up-and-coming, more inclusive, more pronounceable (which is to say, an acronym rather than an abbreviation) moniker encompassing diversity in gender and sexuality. According to, it glosses as Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer. (I've also seen lists that include Unidentified and Two-Spirit.)

latest update: 8/28/17
Compiled by Jennifer Sheffield

I was asked to present a collection of "Great LBGTQ books for kids and teens" for our Queer Literary Festival in October. So I looked through what we had in the store, collected ideas from colleagues, and made a big list. And then after the festival I gathered a few more recommendations from friends, and some further resource links, and organized it all into what you see here. Certainly not comprehensive, but most of the books here have been read and liked either by me and/or by someone I know.

Each list is arranged in chronological order of publication, just to give a sense of how things evolve over time... (Can you find the books from 1936 and 1950?)

Read and enjoy!

Board books that feature or include families with same-sex parents:
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee (2001)
Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me, both by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson (2009)
A is for Activist (2013) and Counting on Community (2015) by Innosanta Nagara

Picture books that feature or include families with same-sex parents/gay family members:
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Diana Souza (1990)
Asha's Mums by Rosamund Elwin & Michele Paulse, illustrated by Dawn Lee (1990)
Felicia's Favorite Story by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Adriana Romo (2002)
The Family Book by Todd Parr (2003)
King & King & Family (sequel to King & King, 2002) by Linda De Haan & Stern Nijland (2004)
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole (2005)
A Different Dragon by Jennifer Bryan, illustrated by Danamarle Hosler (2006)
Mini Mia and her Darling Uncle by Pija Lindenbaum, translated by Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard (2007)
In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco (2009)
[Note: This author's books are generally more appropriate for an older audience.]
A Tale of Two Daddies (2010) and A Tale of Two Mommies (2011), both by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc
Donovan's Big Day by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Mike Dutton (2011)
Operation Marriage by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Lea Lyon (2011)
The Purim Superhero by Elisabeth Kushner, illustrated by Mike Byrne (2013)
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (2014)
The Christmas Truck, by J.B. Blankenship, illustrated by Cassandre Bolan (2014)
Heather Has Two Mommies (25th anniversary edition) by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell (2015)
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer (2015)
Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (2016)
Ned the Knitting Pirate by Diana Murray, illustrated by Leslie Lammle (2016)
Home at Last by Vera B. Williams, illustrated by Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka (2016)

Picture books that feature transgender/gender-nonconforming/intersex main characters:
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (1936)
Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie DePaola (1979)
Jesse's Dream Skirt by Bruce Mack (1979)
Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch (1991)
The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein (2002)
The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Peter Ferguson (2004)
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Rex Ray (2008)
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis, illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone (2010)
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss, illustrated by John Hendrix (2011)
Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero by Cheryl Harness, illustrated by Carlo Molinari (2013)
Jacob's New Dress by Sarah & Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case (2014)
I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas (2014)
Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall (2015)
[Actually about color rather than gender; an excellent illustration of one's inside identity differing from one's outside label.]
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato (2016)
Pink Is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating, with illustrations by David DeGrand (2016)
[Technically this is only here because it features non-stereotypical creatures in pink -- though it does, as it happens, include an intersex species.]
One of a Kind, Like Me/Único Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo, translated by Teresa Mlawer (2016)
Who Are You? The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff (2017)

Picture books about reproduction and families:
All Families Are Special by Norma Simon, illustrated by Teresa Flavin (2003)
The Family Book by Todd Parr (2003)
The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith (2010)
What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth (2012) [This book separates the genetic/biological components from the emotional component of making a baby, thus allowing for nontraditional families.]
It Takes Love (and Some Other Stuff) to Make a Baby by L.L. Bird, illustrated by Patrick Girouard (2014) [Two-mom family using donor insemination.]
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang (2015)
Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet, illustrated by Karen Lewis (2016)

Early Readers about friendship whose authors came out as gay soon after publication and are therefore now suspected of infusing them with more meaning:
The Frog and Toad Series by Arnold Lobel, starting with Frog and Toad are Friends (1970)

Middle Grade books featuring a protagonist with same-sex parents/gay family members:
The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, starting with Sandry's Book (1997)
[Note: the women who become foster mothers to the protagonists don't actually have their relationship identified until much later books]
The Popularity Papers series by Amy Ignatow, starting with The Popularity Papers (2010)
The Flower Power series by Lauren Myracle, starting with Luv Ya Bunches (2010)
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher (2014) and The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island (2016) by Dana Alison Levy
Woundabout by Lev Rosen, illustrated by Ellis Rosen (2015)
The Best Man by Richard Peck (2016)
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, with illustrations by Caroline Hadilaksono (2017)
This Would Make a Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy (2017)
Against the Odds by Amy Ignatow (forthcoming, 2017)

Middle Grade/Chapter books with protagonist or friend who is gay/bi/coming out:
The House You Pass On The Way by Jacqueline Woodson (1997)
The Misfits (2001) and Totally Joe (2005), both by James Howe (inspiration for No Name Calling Week)
Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012)
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (2013)
Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot (book 12) by Dav Pilkey (2015)

Middle Grade/Chapter books with gender-nonconforming/transgender protagonists:
Texas Tomboy by Lois Lenski (1950)
Tatterhood and Other Tales, edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps, with illustrations by Pamela Baldwin Ford (1979)
The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, starting with Alanna: The First Adventure (1983) [Note: I'm always a bit puzzled as to whether this quartet is middle grade or young adult, as Alanna ages from 11-14 in the first book and 14-18 in the second, and then beyond in the last two.]
The Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce, starting with First Test (1999)
No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Willow Dawson (2008)
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (2014)
George by Alex Gino (2015)
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (2016)
The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey (2016)

YA books with protagonist or secondary character who is gay/bi/coming out:
Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden (1982)
Dangerous Angels: the Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block (1989-1995)
The Dear One by Jacqueline Woodson (1991)
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (1995)
Hard Love (1999) and Love & Lies: Marisol's Story (2008), both by Ellen Wittlinger
Empress of the World (2001) and The Rules for Hearts (2007) by Sara Ryan
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger (2003)
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (2003)
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson (2004)
The D.J. Schwenk series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, starting with Dairy Queen (2006)
Getting It by Alex Sanchez (2006)
Gravity by Leanne Lieberman (2008)
Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (2008)
How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity, edited by Michael Cart (2009)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2010)
Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez (2011)
Shine by Lauren Myracle (2011)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (2012)
Ask The Passengers by A.S. King (2012)
Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin (2012) [set in 1926]
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012)
Fat Angie by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo (2013)
Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (2013)
If You Could Be Mine (2013) and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel (2014), both by Sara Farizan
The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi (2014)
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (2014)
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (2014)
Adrian and the Tree of Secrets, story by Hubert, illustrations by Marie Caillou, translated by David Homel (2014)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (2014)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli (2015)
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story, a musical novel by David Levithan (2015)
[Companion to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, above.]
Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (2015)
Surviving Santiago by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (2015)
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (2015)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (2015)
An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay (2015)
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (2015)
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (2016)
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth (2016)
The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend (2017)
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (2017)

YA books with transgender/gender-nonconforming/intersex protagonist or secondary character.
Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy by Seymour Reit (1988)
Luna by Julie Anne Peters (2004)
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (2006)
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger (2007)
Freak Show by James St. James (2007)
How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity, edited by Michael Cart (2009)
Being Emily by Rachel Gold (2012)
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (2012)
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (2013)
For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu (2014)
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (2015)
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (2015)
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (2016)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (2016)
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (2016)
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (2017)

YA with fantasy elements:
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett (2003)
[Not marketed as YA, but close enough, I think.]
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce (2005)
The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (2006)
[Also not marketed as YA, though often recommended as such. From the author: "No one's sure whether it's an adult novel about a teenage girl, or a Young Adult novel that should be R rated."]
The Graceling Realms series by Kristin Cashore, starting with Graceling (2008)
Ash by Malinda Lo (2009)
The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, starting with Leviathan (2009)
The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, starting with Legend (2011)
Every Day by David Levithan (2012)
Seraphina (2012) and Shadow Scale (2015), both by Rachel Hartman
Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, edited by Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios (2014)
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (2015)
[Companion volume to the author's Fangirl (2013), which I didn't include because in that book these same characters are fictional. ...Which sounds a bit silly when I say it out loud.]
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (2015)
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth (2016)

Nonfiction for preteens, teens, and parents:
Sex & Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex by Deborah M. Roffman (2001)
Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children by Diane Ehrensaft (2011)
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller (2012)
Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son by Lori Duron (2013)
Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus, photography by Rachelle Lee Smith (2014)
For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values, and Health by Al Vernacchio (2014)
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, written and photographed by Susan Kuklin (2014)
Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long (2014)
Some Assembly Required: The Not-so-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews and Joshua Lyon (2014)
Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth (2015)
Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson (2016)
Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings (2016)
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs (2016)
The ABC's of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell (2016)

Links to more lists and resources
Goodreads Listopia: Alternative Families in Children's Literature
A Mighty Girl: True Colors: Mighty Girl Books for Pride Month
Huffington Post: 10 Children's Books That Paved the Way for a New Queer Protagonist
Chana Rothman's Rainbow Train Resources, including her newly released Rainbow Train CD, an album of songs of gender liberation (2015).
Trans Youth Family Allies: Recommended Reading
Sarah and Ian Hoffman (authors of Jacob's New Dress): Recommended Reading
A blog by Patricia A. Sarles, which includes lots of different categories and lots of foreign language books: Gay-Themed Books for Children
Goodreads Listopia: YA Short Stories and Collections with LGBT Themes
Malinda Lo's website: My Guide to LGBT YA (a list of lists)