Expectation and Criminal Activity

Quote

Amazon.com

Today I checked the lock on the pink BMX, and felt a wave of guilt for even contemplating stealing it. It was my day off. I had planned for the sweet, calming tedium of grocery shopping, perhaps a magazine read cover to cover while sipping a fourth cup of coffee, no random crimes. But there was something in the air: expectation.

Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall

This novel won the Lambda Literary Award: Transgender. A review can be seen HERE. More award winners can be found on the Amazon.com  Lambda Literary Award: Transgender listing.

Well Matched Roommates

Quote

Amazon.com

Despite Roxy’s stripper name — the actual name on her birth certificate was Roxy Barbara Streisand Gillard, and I’m not even kidding — she was as far as possible from the way you’d expect a Roxy to look. Roxy was a connector — or was it a nucleus? At school I had always skipped biology, so I wasn’t good with scientific metaphors. Anyway, she connected people. She was pretty much how I made all my friends in Toronto. She made an effort to make plans with friends, and to introduce them to others, like a community hub. There — Roxy was a community hub. She was rarely alone. She was always up to something interesting.

Roxy liked to talk. I liked to listen. The roommate situation would probably work out well.

Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall

This novel won the Lambda Literary Award: Transgender. A review can be seen HERE. More award winners can be found on the Amazon.com  Lambda Literary Award: Transgender listing.

Coffee and Memories of Youth

Quote

Amazon.com

The stale coffee is boiling up but he catches it before it goes over the side, pours it into a stained cup and blows on the black liquid, lets a panel of the dream slide forward. If he does not force his attention on it, it might stoke the day, rewarm that old, cold time on the mountain when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Families Are Special

Quote

Alibris.com

Each family is special. The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.

Heather Has Two Mommies, written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Laura Cornell

Parenting Is An Action

Quote

Alibris.com

“Who’s your mom when you set you campsite? Who’s your mom for scary faces with flashlights? Mommy helps to set up the campsite. Momma makes great scary faces with a flashlight.”

A Tale of Two Mommies, written by Vanita Oelschlager and illustrated by Mike Blanc

Can’t Fix It, Got To Stand It

Quote

Amazon.com

There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

If You Could Stop a War

Quote

Barnes & Noble

What about school? What about your mom?” She could hear him swallow over the phone. “What about us?

Her eyes stung with tears. She was trying not to think about the really hard parts of all this. “Jon, if you had a chance to stop a war, would you?”

The logical thing for him to do would be the reality check. To tell her that nothing she could do would stop a war. Not this one, not any. But he didn’t do that.

He said, “Yes, I would.”

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn

Empowerment Anthem

Quote

Image source: Alibris.com

June is LGBT Pride month.

I Will Survive (AKA: The Gay Anthem)

“At first, I was afraid, I was petrified.
Kept thinkin’ I could never live
Without you by my side,
But then I spent so many nights
Thinkin’ how you did me wrong.
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along.”

“Well, now go! Walk out the door!
Just turn around now,
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore!
Weren’t you the one
Who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

“Oh no, not I! I will survive!”

-I Will Survive (single) and We Will Survive (album), performed by Gloria Gaynor, written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris

Midwestern United States Pride Month Resources:

Fitting In

Quote

Image source: Wordery.com

In Or Out

“Guess there’s something wrong with me
Guess I don’t fit in
No one wants to touch it
No one knows where to begin
I’ve got more than one membership
To more than one club
And I owe my life
To the people that I love”

Imperfectly by Ani DiFranco

Note: The quotes are from the lyrics of songs written and performed by Ani Difranco. The book is a collection of poetry and paintings – also by Ani DiFranco. I was unable to locate the music CDs in my affiliate program, but everything can be found at http://www.righteousbabe.com.

Boys in Dresses and 12-Step Dragons

The quotes at the end of this posting come from books that address very specific and special circumstances. These are the kinds of children’s books that generate controversy in ways that I have never understood.

heatherMany years ago the book Heather Has Two Mommies (written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Diana Souza) came out and caused a huge uproar in the Midwestern town I was living in. The local library secured a copy and a patron, who has (apparently) never been identified, pooped inside the book – yes, that’s right, an adult found the book, took it into the bathroom and pooped in it. (The book was found, damaged beyond all possible repair, in the bathroom.) Ever since then I find myself wondering which self righteous ‘adult’ is going to poop in the next ‘unapproved’ children’s book that happens to come along.

These two books fall under the ‘unapproved’ category because they cover things that children deal with, struggle with, and face enormous stress and pressure over – but are expected to never, ever talk about. Specifically: A parent’s addiction and the desire to wear unconventional clothes.

Jacob's New Dress on Wordery.com

Jacob’s New Dress on Wordery.com

In both cases these things must be talked about and accepted on the part of the child’s family, whoever that may be. Ideally, the situation would be lovingly and respectfully dealt with by the community at large – but that is an idealism. Regardless, these books are extremely helpful tools. They can provide support and get the conversation started, or they can help build a bridge when a parent realizes he or she has been addressing the situation in all the wrong ways.

They also have multiple uses. The Dragon is named Al and the illustrations and storyline clearly lean toward alcoholism, but it can be used to begin a conversation about any kind of addiction. Jacob likes to dress like a princess and wants nothing more than to wear a dress, which is clearly a problem simply soaked in gender-identity and gender-based expectations. But Jacob also wants to wear things that are different from what the rest of the kids are wearing – different from what he is expected to wear. He wants to do things that are different from what is expected of him because of what he looks like. There are many kids who struggle with being different, or wanting to be different, and needing to be accepted for those differences – and not all of them are gender-based variations from the norm.

indexSo, I was looking at these two books, thinking about how they are very good and necessary things. Yet, I was not (am not) dealing with these specific scenarios. Should I just put them back on the shelves and move on to something more standard and expected in the children’s literature stacks. Are these books truly problem (catastrophe) specific events? Are they best left to gather dust until a special situation arises, when they are pulled down and used to address whatever issue is at hand? Or, are they stories that should be read to all children, regardless of situation, in the same way that conflict resolution focused books are read – to prepare a child for whatever he or she may face?

As it happens, while I was busy mulling over the oh-so-important decisions adults must make, a child asked me to read both books. So (with his mother’s permission), I did – twice (at his request). I don’t think he saw them as special or even unusual. From a child’s perspective, they were just stories. Stories about a boy whose classmates were sometimes mean and about a family with a dragon. Stories about kids. Stories with pictures and adventures. Stories. Period.

None of it was as important or universe changing as I had made it out to be – which may be the lesson that I, as the over-thinking adult, may need to learn.

QUOTES:

“Dad explained to us that Al the Dragon will always be with us. He says he has to work a few simple steps to make sure Al doesn’t take over our lives again. Dad’s new best friend is his sponsor. The sponsor has a dragon, too. They go to meetings.”

The Dragon Who Lives at Our House, A Story of What It Feels Like to Lose Control of your Life, written by Elaine Mitchell and illustrated by Norris Hall

“A bunch of kids laughed. Jacob felt his dress surrounding him. Like armor. Soft, cottony, magic armor.”

Jacob’s New Dress, written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and illustrated by Chris Case

(C) Adora Myers