For Pride Month, I am sharing five exceptional children’s books with LGBTQ+ themes.
Nen and the Lonely Fisherman by Ian Eagleton and James Mayhew
Published by indie, Owlet Press, Nen and the Lonely Fisherman has one of the most stunning silver-foil covers I’ve seen. We couldn’t wait to read this LGBT retelling of The Little Mermaid.
We are first introduced to merman Nen via a stunning vertical spread. He feels empty and despite the warning of his father, Pelagios, Nen often goes to the ocean’s surface to sing a song of hope.
Next, Ian and James take us to shore, where we meet a lonely fisherman, Ernest, who cares deeply for the ocean, rescuing, freeing, collecting and dreaming.
When Ernest hears Nen’s song, he sails out to sea. As soon as they meet, the emptiness they both felt washes away. But Nen’s father is furious and creates a raging storm. Ernest is plunged into the ocean. Can Nen rescue Ernest in time and do they have a future together?
Nen and the Lonely Fisherman is a lyrical re-telling of The Little Mermaid, celebrating love and acceptance. James’ illustrations are absolutely magical and bring this gentle love story to life. This much-needed picture book is a pure delight!
Published by Owlet Press, 6 June 2021
RuPaul by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Wednesday Holmes
We adore Quarto’s Little People, BIG DREAMS series and it was brilliant to discover the life of Drag Race host, RuPaul.
Told through short, accessible sentences, we learnt about little Ru’s childhood. My daughter loves dressing up and was delighted to find out it was Ru’s favourite game too. As Ru got older, drag became a way for Ru to express himself as an artist. After becoming successful, he set out to empower others through Drag Race.
Wednesday’s illustrations are full of life, and it was great to see that the publisher had commissioned a queer illustrator. Wednesday has received worldwide recognition for their artistic contributions for the queer community online.
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 4 May 2021
Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate
This a breath-taking picture book that made me so emotional, it left me lost for words.
The book captures a granddaughter’s visit to see her Grandad, who is mourning the loss of the love of his life, Gramps. Now, her grandparent’s beloved camper is gathering rust in the garage. Grandad explains it hasn’t felt the same travelling without Gramps. But the little girl has a plan. Perhaps the camper has more adventures after all…
This beautiful story has universal messages of love, loss, grief and togetherness. But what I adore most about this book, is that it explores these themes whilst celebrating a multi-ethnic family with grandparents in the LGBT community. I loved every single inch of this book, from cover to cover. I could look at Harry’s artwork all day, and their words are just as moving as their illustrations. Grandad’s Camper is one of my top picks for 2021 (and probably the decade!).
Published by Andersen Press, 6 May 2021
Princess Kevin by Michael Escoffier and Roland Garrigue
My daughter and I loved the striking cover of Princess Kevin and the story didn’t disappoint.
It’s the school fancy dress show and Kevin is going as a princess. He looks amazing. So you can imagine his fury when the knights refuse to partner with him.
Things just go from bad to worse when a high-heeled calamity leaves Kevin feeling embarrassed. So much so, Kevin decides he doesn’t want to be a princess anymore. But, don’t worry, he has an even more fabulous idea for what to dress up as next year…
This humorous picture book celebrates individuality and breaking gender stereotypes. Michael writes with such a strong voice and the bright pink Roland has used throughout the book really elevates each spread. We loved it and would hope to see more stories featuring Kevin in the future!
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 6 April 2021
Have PRIDE by Stella Caldwell, Sue Sanders and Season of Victory
Finally, I want to share an exceptional book for teenagers (and also adults!) that guides you through the history of the LGBTQ+ community from ancient civilisations to modern day.
The historical events are discussed sensitively and openly, including the Stonewall riots, the AIDS crisis and equal marriage. Every page has interesting facts and graphics, such as this one on the symbolism of the rainbow flag. Each chapter includes profiles of famous LGBTQ+ figures from the time, from Anne Lister (aka Gentleman Jack) to Marielle Franco. It is shocking and heartbreaking to read about the brutality and persecution the community has endured. But it is also inspiring to see how the community has, and continues to, fight for equality. Interspersed between profiles of prominent historical LGBTQ+ figures are profiles of young people today.
Have Pride has a poignant and beautiful harmony between facts about the history of the global LGBTQ+ movement, and the experiences of young people from the community today. Whilst highlighting the oppression and struggles the LGBTQ+ community has faced in its fight for equality, the book also celebrates PRIDE. I wish every secondary school and library had a copy of this informative, inclusive and inspirational book.
Published by Welbeck Publishing, 25 June 2020
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with a complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.