The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived, the charming story of Cedric the pumpkin farmer — who shows courage, smarts and kindness as he grows to be a knight — may very well be the first children’s book to feature a hero who just happens to be gay.
Creating the tale was an act of bravery itself for writer Daniel Errico – who just happens to be straight.
The author of more than 100 children’s e-books, many of which are available on his website (FreeChildrenStories.com), Errico is widely known for his Barnes and Noble best-sellers The Journey of the Noble Gnarble and The Journey of the Marmabill.
So why would a straight, successful children’s author take on the risky challenge of creating a gay hero?
“I’m close friends with a gay couple, and when it comes to children’s literature, it was clear to me that they were being left out of the conversation,” Errico says. “There are some great children’s books about non-traditional families and gender non-conformity, but the biggest omission is gay heroes who kids can look up to and relate to.”
Errico faced resistance as soon as he began to develop the tale. “People who were close to me were concerned it might end my career,” he says. “They didn’t understand why I, as a straight man, would want to do it. But for me it’s a human rights issue. I can choose to be a part of this or not, which makes me even more determined to do it.”
The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived was first published as an e-book, with sweetly droll illustrations by Danish artist Ida M. Schouw Andreasen. Having studied traditional fairy tales, Errico tells the story in charmingly witty verse that would make Oscar Wilde proud.
“I got amazing feedback from people who said they wish they’d had a book like this when they were growing up,” the author adds. But not all of the feedback was positive.
“There were conservative sites that said I was trying to brainwash kids and promote a gay agenda,” he says. “It was the first time in my career that people said, ‘I wouldn’t show this to my kids,’ even people who I considered liberal and gay allies. It changes for them when kids are involved. At the heart of it, some people are not fully convinced that their children’s sexuality cannot be influenced.”
Errico self-funded an animated eight-minute version of the story, which Andreasen then created. “I got unbelievably excited when Hulu decided to pick it up,” he says.
“We definitely recognized that The Bravest Knight is not for all audiences,” says Andrew Thomas, Hulu’s senior manager of content acquisition. “We wanted to be respectful and mindful of parents who are not ready to have a conversation with their kids about LGBT issues. But we hadn’t come across kids’ content that spoke to LGBT issues before. We’re in the business of telling great stories to kids, and this is such an adorable, sweet story. I feel very privileged that our whole team and our management is behind it.”
Hulu premiered The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived on May 28, to kick off the site's June Pride month initiative. And although it runs a mere eight minutes long, it is indeed a tale of which everyone can be proud.