These titles, Kind Like Marsha: Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders by Sarah Prager (and illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday), Cinderelliot: A Scrumptious Fairytale by Mark Ceilley and Rachel Smoka-Richardson (illustrated by Stephanie Laberis) and Dolls and Trucks Are for Everyone by Robb Pearlman (illustrated by Eda Kaban) are the perfect trio. Each one different, but each dealing with the themes of GLBTQ+ movers and shakers, being yourself and the “should” and “should nots” when it comes to toys, games, playing and more. They are clever, but not necessarily BEST EVER examples of the genre. Unfortunately, they can feel like you had one too many pieces of chocolate: it seems good at first, but now you’ve watered down the flavor and, in this case, the books message.
Kind Like Marsha covers fourteen different GLBTQ+ leaders. Some you might know, such as Harvey Milk and Audre Lorde, but others such as X Gonzalez and Frank Mugisha might be new. The people covered range from Sappho to people having been born only about 20 years ago. And will someone please tell me why Ai of Han has scissors in his illustration? I only noticed this quirky detail as the art was unique and I was trying to read them as much as the text. Almost abstracted images, you can still see who and what is being highlighted. Overall, a simple introduction to the people who each are given a mini-biography and a term that shows their personality, and a quote that illustrates that.
With Cinderelliot put on your chef’s hat for a Cinderella retelling. Most of the basics are there, with a few twists. Cinderelliot has a stepbrother and stepsister, they are physically and emotionally horrible to him, there is a fabulously dressed fairy godfather, a ball (slash) bake-off, a finding of the true love by the prince (and yes, how could you not know who the love of your life was and have the stepsiblings try on the chef’s hat?) and a happily ever after with cake. It is predictable, CE marries the prince, he bakes the wedding cake and Happy Happy! The illustrations are cute, nicely detailed, and colorful, but cartoonlike and can be clunky depending on your personal tastes. Watch them for little surprises.
I unknowingly reread Kaban’s book, Dolls and Trucks Are for Everyone. Since it was a repeat of most of the “pink is for boys” books it felt familiar, but I was not sure I had read it. Until the lines “unicorns are for everyone, because… unicorns!” And “robots are for puppies.” These little quirks aside which are unique to Kaban’s book, you know the story. The board book size is good for a younger reader/listener. But you the adult know what you are getting yourself into. The concept is in the title: boys can play with dolls, girls with trucks, both can sew or craft wood, etc. The illustrations are cartoonish and bright, without being overwhelming. And there is minimal detail. It is cozy.