Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero is a modern take on gender and how it is fluid. It is how Drag is not just “dressing up” but being who you are. The best part is how normal and realistic the situation is. Uncle Leo helps with homework, plays with his nephew and they have fun. Auntie Lotta sings, dances and has fun with her nephew. Just because Leo is Lotta/Lotta is Leo is beside the point. These are things we can relate to: having fun with a family member.
What is also realistic is that everyone is unsure if Leo’s friends and Lotta’s friends will like each other. There is worry and rightly so. We never know how our friends will react/relate to each other in any situation, let along if one set of friends are accountants and the others are drag queens. Of course, we (the readers) know things will be fine, but showing the worry helps the story along. And shows even grownups are not always sure of things or themselves.
The story shows that Lotta is a hero by saving a pride parade from having an accident and should accept the award for bravery. But Leo knows that he needs to be there, too. The sequence of the nephew and uncle/aunt finding the right mix to show who they are is fun. While it might be a tad too much for the youngest crowd (mostly aimed at ages 5 and up), all ages can find something about this book and enjoy it. Lotta reminds me of my own auntie. I have had the pleasure of her being in my life for several years now. And while my auntie is a woman despite her assigned gender, she has taught me much about what Ellie Royce talks about in her book: be yourself and the rest falls into place.
Over 200 words in and nothing about Hannah Chambers illustrations. They are fantastic!! Both humorous and serious at the same time with wonderful details, colors and images. Lotta and Leo come alive. Lotta reminds me of several drag queens who are currently popular in the scene (Alyssa Edwards to name one). Therefore, Lotta is as true to life as her story is. Both the art and text need to be experienced as they help complement each other and the art creates another part of the overall story.