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30 Queer-Friendly Books for Young Adults, Kids, and Familes

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Lie With Me by Philippe Besson is a love story between two teen boys in 1984 France. Actress Molly Ringwald translated the novel from its original French version. Both Besson and Ringwald are in top form. Philippe is the quiet, sensitive type, already branded as different by his classmates. He longs to be with Thomas, a popular boy in class, and spends nearly all his time at school observing the boy. Philippe is shocked to learn that not only does Thomas know he is being watched, but that their sexual attraction is mutual. The pair grows closer in private with a series of passionate encounters. In public, though, they pretend to not even know each other. As the school year draws to a close, it becomes apparent one boy will leave to find his career while the other will be left behind. Besson is the award-winning author of multiple novels. Lie With Me is already a best-seller in France, and the winner of the Maisons de la Presse Prize. Ringwald has lovingly translated Besson’s original text, and her words faithfully capture all the emotions and uncertainties of the first love and loss. (Scribner)

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker follows a trans girl as she starts her new life at Monarch Middle School. Zenobia July used to live in Arizona with her father, but now she’s in Maine with her aunts. She’s no longer hiding behind a computer working on her hacking or coding. Now she’s getting out and working on living her new life in the gender she always knew to be right. It’s not long before she meets Arli, a gender-queer classmate with acceptance problems at home. When Muslim classmate Chantal is the subject of hateful and racist memes posted on the school’s website, Zenobia leaps into action. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of computers and the Internet, she is soon able to solve the mystery of the malevolent memes while also getting that much closer to figuring out her own identity. It’s not easy being yourself sometimes, and it’s made worse when Zenobia hears what one of her friends has to say about Elijah, a trans boy in their class. She decides to keep her identity a secret until finally she finds the one person she can trust with the truth. Zenobia July artfully deals with the issues of identity, friendship, and family, all through the eyes of a young trans girl just trying to belong. (Penguin Young Reader)

Squad by Mariah MacCarthy tells of a squad of cheerleaders that was not filled with cover models and drama queens. Instead they are all average students trying to be good cheerleaders and good people, too. Life isn’t perfect, that’s for sure, but Jenna is happy with her life on the squad with her best friend, Raejean. Then things change for the worse when Raejean doesn’t have time for Jenna because she has a new best friend in Meghan Finnegan. Pretty soon, there are words whispered behind her back and she finds she’s not getting invites for the “in” crowd like before. Jenna quits the squad, takes up LARPing, starts a relationship with a trans boy, and slowly finds herself coming full circle at the end in more ways than one. MacCarthy has penned a novel that will reach young readers in large part because they have written the book they needed to reach as a young closeted bisexual during high school. The characters are three-dimensional with faults and redeeming qualities. They get angry and hurt, and say and do things they later regret. There are no tidy resolutions, but instead a sense of realism as lessons are learned and life goes on. (MacMillian Children’s Publishing Group)

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All The Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle is a riveting, atmospheric and timely story of a young queer teen searching for the sister she refuses to believe is dead. On her 17th birthday, Deena plans to come out to her family, but then she receives news that her older and wilder sister Mandy was witnessed jumping from a cliff to her death. Her father doesn’t seem very concerned as the Rys women have always been troubled according to him. Then Deena starts receiving letters claiming to be from her supposedly deceased sister. Are they real? Should Deena investigate and will she be able to handle what she might learn about her family if she does? A desperate and harrowing cross-country trip will reveal the darkest secrets not just about her family, but also her community and country. Fowley-Doyle has penned a novel that speaks to the heart of a country, Ireland, that only recently overturned the dreaded Eight Amendment banning abortion. All The Bad Apples deals with serious subject matters but in a format and story that is age appropriate. (Penguin)

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins takes the heteronormative girl-meets-prince story and gives it a lesbian flavor. Milly Quint is devastated when she learns her sort of best friend and girlfriend has been stealing kisses from another girl. She’s ready for a change so she begins applying for scholarships in some of the world’s most exclusive boarding schools. With her record she soon finds herself accepted to the Gregorstoun school in Scotland. This suits Milly just fine and she is soon safely tucked away behind ivy-covered bricks walls amid the lush, green rolling landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Her new roommate looks and acts just like a princess, in large part because she is an actual princess. The first meetings between the girls do not go entirely well. Despite their rocky beginnings, though, Milly soon finds that she has found another sort of best friend and girlfriend. Will this one survive longer than the last one, or will Milly discover that class and social hierarchy can break hearts on both sides of the Atlantic? Hawkins has penned a novel of young lives and royal romance that will pull at the heartstrings of young and old romantics alike. It’s a fish-out-of-water, queer rom-com that will keep you laughing and swooning from start to finish. (Penguin Random House)

The Kill Club by Wendy Heard asks the question how far would you go to save the most important person in the world to you. Jazz is asking herself this question more and more as of late. She escaped the religious fanaticism and woeful homeschooling of her foster mother Carol, but Jazz had to leave young brother Juaquin behind with the increasingly unstable woman. Things take a drastic turn for the worse when Carol locks the boy in his bedroom and refuses to give him his life-saving insulin because she believes the power of prayer is stronger than the power of doctors. She even puts bars on his windows to prevent Jazz from sneaking him his medicine. With nowhere else to turn, she soon receives an offer that is hard to refuse. The Blackbird Kill Club is an underground vigilante group that takes care of problems like Carol, but at a cost. Jazz can save Juaquin, but she has to kill a complete stranger first to join the club. If she makes a mistake, then she becomes a victim, too. Heard has written a novel filled with hard questions and uneasy answers, where secrets of the past become unresolved problems that boil over in the present. This is story that will keep you riveted and turning pages from the first to very last. (Mira)

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Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan is her much-anticipated sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire, which spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Lei, the country girl who slayed the cruel monarch, is back. Alongside her is Wren, her warrior love. Together they travel the kingdom to rally distant rebel clans to join in their cause. Making things even more treacherous is the large bounty placed on her head and the dark magic that threatens to stop both the rebels and the efforts of our heroic lovers. Will Lei be able to defeat the forces opposed to her while still protecting her love for Wren, or will she and those she seeks to save be destroyed? As in the original novel, Ngan’s characters are vividly constructed, and the pacing of the book encourages the young reader to get lost in the pages. The settings and mood are vividly constructed, and lure the reader into visualizing the blistering deserts, dank castles, and the mysteries of a world where dark magic is both real and deadly. Action-packed and featuring strong female and other inclusive characters and themes, Girls of Storm and Shadow is an adrenalin inducing read that more than lives up to the expectations. (Jimmy Paterson Books)

Ziggy, Stardust & Me James Brandon takes the young reader back to 1973 when the Vietnam War was raging, the Watergate scandal was unfolding, and homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness. Sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins is an anxious, asthmatic, and closeted boy who is getting bullied by just about everyone it seems. Other than his neighbor Starla, he has no real friends. Even worse, he’s undergoing electroshock therapy to cure his mental illness of being gay. It’s no wonder that Collins spends much of his time in an alternate reality inspired by rock visionary David Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust persona. In the private world of his mind, he can be anything he wants from being an astronaut or superhero. He hopes that his treatments will make him as straight in real life as he longs to be in his fantasy world. Before that happens, though, a new friend stumbles into his life. Web is fearless, fearsome, and not the least bit ashamed of being gay. In short, Web is everything Jonathan is not, so of course the boy finds himself falling for the new kid. Brandon has penned a novel that seamlessly melds a coming of age tale with the oppressive beliefs and actions of the time. The characters are real and complex, and their feelings honestly portrayed. (Penguin Young Readers)

Mean by Justin Sayre picks up the story and characters from his previous novels, Husky and Pretty. This time he follows Ellen, the videogammer girl whose honesty is perceived by others as cruel and mean. While other people gossip and talk behind her back, Ellen believes it’s best to be honest with people and sort out the aftermath later. Life in middle school is rarely easy, and Ellen certainly has her share of obstacles to face every day. Whether it’s the pubescent zombies filling the hallways or trying to figure out why her friend Duck is acting so strange lately, the young girl really has a full plate of social intrigue. Could it have anything to do with Charlie? The two boys had a falling out after Charlie revealed his feelings for Duck. It would all be so much easier if everyone was honest with each other, or so she thinks. Sayre is a former television writer for 2 Broke Girls and it shows in the snappy dialogue that feels real and not contrived. She effortlessly captures the roller coaster of emotions that dominate the lives of those just beginning the process of crossing over into adulthood. (Penguin Young Readers)

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The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff is part coming-of-age, part science fiction, and part love story. It tells the story of Conrad Aybinder, a high school student who was left a series of scientific journals when his chemistry teacher, Sammy Tamparie, passes unexpectedly. Everyone else thinks he died of a drug overdose, but Conrad believes the young teacher’s death might have something to do with his quest to discover the elixir of eternal life. The fact that the pair had been engaging in a passionate love affair only complicates things for Connor. His search to prove Sammy’s research right takes on even greater urgency as his father grows sicker while waiting for a liver transplant. Will Connor be able to decipher the coded and incomplete research and recipes in time to save his father? Wolff’s debut novel is a unique piece of storytelling that effortlessly jumps between different times and place. He uses narrators and points of view, but the dialogue and story are never forced or difficult to understand. While the issue of the closeness of their relationship may seem inappropriate to some, Wolff uses the personal journals gifted to Connor to allow Sammy to reveal his character from the age of 8 onwards, making it possible for the reader to understand the man and his later choices. (Farrar, Straus and Girous)

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw is a graphic novel that follows the life of Mads as she deals with coming to terms with herself and the mysteries of life around her. For instance, kisses one through seven were pretty uninspiring so she had no reason to expect kiss number eight would be any different. That expectation was turned upside down when she kissed a girl on number eight — and liked it. Suddenly, Mads has to deal with the fact that she likes kissing Cat only further clouds an already complicated life. Her dad is growing distant and there’s some sort of secret involving her grandparents. And let’s not even get started on the other kids at school and how they treat the girl who likes to kiss girls after her secret becomes topic number one of school gossip. After a change of schools brings about new friends and a new outlook on life, Mads decides it time to tackle the issues with her dad and his parents as well. Venable and Crenshaw have combined to create a series of storylines and visuals that effortlessly mesh together. They deal with heavy issues of bigotry, bullying, and family discord all the while not appearing heavy handed. (First Second)

Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby follows 11-year-old Fiona (or Fig for short) as she navigates the storms brewing in her young life. The biggest storm is the one caused by her bipolar father. He’s a brilliant pianist, but he is growing more unpredictable by the day. When he shows up unannounced at her school and makes a scene, a concerned teacher alerts the authorities. Fig’s life was already complicated enough trying to act more like a parent to her ailing father, and now she has the added pressure of protective services looking over her shoulder. If she can’t keep up appearances, they might just take her away. Then there’s school. Her best friend, Danny, sometimes blushes when they talk as if he has a crush on her. Of course, that’s just how Fig feels when she’s around Hannah, another girl at school. The storms eventually pass, but Fig and her family and friends will have to endure some soul searching and hard choices before they will see sunshine again. Melleby has penned a novel that captures the fears and uncertainties of a girl coming to terms with herself all the while forced to grow up before her time. Anyone who has lived with a person suffering from mental illness will instantly empathize and identify with young Fig as she finds the best songs are the ones written from the heart for the ones you love the most. (Algonquin Young Readers)

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Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker follows the life of a young boy who lives with an alien inside him. When Felix was 3 years old, Zyx (pronounced “Six”) was implanted in his body during one of his father’s medical experiments gone wrong. As a result, he’s endured a life of pain, bullying, and misunderstanding. Yet this marriage of beings has allows Felix to experience a life unseen by normal persons. And now that he’s approaching puberty, Felix must undergo surgery to separate the two or he might not live to see adulthood. To complicate things even further, Felix finds himself growing more attracted to Hector, a boy at school. As the day of surgery approaches, Felix is left with a cauldron of emotions and thoughts boiling over. His separation surgery has the chance of saving his life, but will it be worth the risk? Bunker has written a novel that pushes the envelope of character and storyline while still being readable and appropriate for younger readers. She deals with issues of identity, trust, bullying, and sexuality, but in a way that is not simplistic or overbearing. Felix Yz perfectly combines issues of everyday importance to modern children with a sci-fi fantasy storyline. (Penguin Young Readers)

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante tells the story of a young teen girl from El Salvador who undergoes a questionable medical experiment in exchange for realizing her lifelong dream of gaining entry to the United States. Life is dangerous back home for 17-year-old Marisol. Her brother is killed, and she fears a similar fate for herself and her younger sister. She is forced to flee but is given a second chance when the pair are caught crossing the border into the US. All she must do is undergo a medical procedure that will transfer to her the grief from someone else. Of course, Marisol agrees but soon discovers that the procedure is just as different and unexpected as life in America. And things get really complicated when she finds herself falling in love with the traumatized girl whose grief she is receiving. But her newfound feelings and emotions may help her comes to terms with her brother’s loss, and her own role in his untimely passing. The Grief Keeper begins with an original premise that is then propelled by complex characters and a story that asks deep questions about grief, class, race, sexual equality, and agency. Villasante is unflinching when touching on sensitive issues, allowing the reading to absorb their significance while following Marisol’s journey to freedom. (Penguin Young Readers)

Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta is a quirky, sci-fi novel that follows a girl from outer space who becomes the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur. Ari lives centuries into the future where humanity is stretched across multiple galaxies and under the control of the giant and evil Mercer corporation. Mercer rule is unforgiving, and Ari soon finds herself on the opposite side of the law. Things grow more complicated when a reverse-aging Merlin declares that Ari is the latest reincarnation of the legendary King Arthur. It seems there is some strange magic afoot that Merlin cannot control. Ari and Merlin must find a way to reverse the magic and stop the Mercer corporation before it is too late. Along the way Ari falls in love with Gwen, while Merlin keeps getting younger. Once & Future is more than your typical fantasy or sci-fi book in that it is also filled with enough one-liners and humorous situations to make the reader laugh out loud. McCarthy and Capetta have created a world where gender is fluid and nobody bats an eye a non-binary person. In this telling of King Arthur and the round table, the knights are not all white and male. The cast of characters is as diverse as they are deep. The writing easily captures the varying moods of the story, whether it’s a heart-stopping action sequence in space or a quiet moment of affection between two girls experiencing the first pangs of love. (Jimmy Patterson Books)

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Birthday by Meredith Russo is the story of two lifelong best friends, and how the depth of their relationship is revealed when it is tested the most. The story takes place on six successive birthdays beginning with the year they become teenagers and is told from the alternating viewpoints of the pair. Morgan and Eric have been best friends since the day they were born on the same day, in the same hospital, in the same small, rural Tennessee town. There’s just one problem for Morgan. Life can be difficult for someone who doesn’t live up to the masculine expectations of his football coach father. It was especially difficult for Morgan who always felt different than the other boys. It wasn’t just that he feels different than the other boys; what confuses him most is that he doesn’t feel like a boy at all. Pretty soon Morgan realizes that she’s a girl trapped inside a boy’s body. It’s not much easier for Eric, who isn’t gay but can’t help but find himself falling for Morgan. Will the pair remain best friends for life, or does fate have something else in store for them? Russo has written a story that deals with tough issues of love, gender, grief and the loss of a parent, set within the framework of a touching coming-of-age story. (Flatiron)

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith follows the lives of two teen friends struggling to deal with the cruelties of life. Chris is the new kid in town and he desperately needs a new start. He was the victim of a brutal hate crime in his last town, and he’s having a tough time dealing with the memories and after effects. Maia is experiencing similar trials as she tries to process the death of her sister. The pair soon become friends and even more, trouble looms as their secrets are slowly revealed. Chris is a trans boy who hasn’t worked up the courage to be fully honest with Maia, who herself has been hiding her own secrets. Smith has written a beautiful work filled with believable, multi-dimensional characters whose experiences and emotions will resonate with young readers. Like in life, there are no perfect people or protagonists in Something Like Gravity. Instead their imperfections serve to give the story realism and direction. In the end, the reader will find that love can repel like a magnet as much as it can draw closer like gravity. Smith hopes that her latest work will speak to younger people and raise awareness of the issues facing them, and help foster an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion. (Simon & Schuster)

The Whispers by Greg Howard tells the story of a young boy coping with the loss of his mother and his own burgeoning sexuality. Eleven-year-old Riley is having a tough time since the disappearance of his mother. A once-vibrant house filled with laughter is now quiet and somber. His father used to love telling jokes and making his sons laugh, but these days it’s hard to tell whether his dad is laughing or crying. His older brother used to be his friend, now it seems like he’s just another bully making his life miserable. If that wasn’t bad enough, the police keep questioning him instead of looking for his mom’s kidnappers. It’s almost as if everyone thinks Riley is responsible for her disappearance. And then there are all those strange feelings that come over him when he’s around Dylan, the handsome 8th grader at his middle school. With nowhere else to turn, Riley reaches back to his secret fairy world of the whispers. Can they grant his wish to make his world right again, or will his true friends in the real world help him figure things out instead? Set in a small Southern town, The Whispers is a moving and poignant tale of friendship, family, and loss, and the lengths to which a child’s imagination and friends will go to help him find the truth and closure. (Penguin Young Readers)

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Poison in the Colony: James Town 1622 by Elisa Carbone is the story of a young girl living in 17th century James Town who is gifted with a powerful but dangerous ability. Virginia Laydon was just an infant at the end of the award-winning historical novel Blood on the River: James Town 1607, but now she is a girl growing into a young woman. Survival on the frontier is tough, and is made all the more difficult by the actions of the corrupt governor. Unbeknownst to all but a trusted few, Virginia possesses what she calls the knowing, an ability to see into the future and the unknown. Tensions are rising between the settlers and the indigenous peoples, and war is threatening to break out at any moment. Virginia’s abilities might just save colony, but they could just as likely get her burned at the stake as a witch. When her fellow settlers begin to make accusations, learns that it is better to live with the truth and your conscience than it is to live a lie. Poison in the Colony is a seamless continuation of the characters introduced in Blood on the River. Carbone’s story of a young heroine empowered by her own personal journey of self-realization will resonate with young readers looking for an exciting and believable experience. (Penguin Young Reader)

This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender is about a young teen who finds his life becoming more complicated with the reappearance of on old friend. Nate has a plan. Things have not been easy for the aspiring screenwriter. Dealing with the death of his father was difficult, but now he’s having to deal with his mom’s unraveling from the loss. He was in a relationship with his best friend, Florence, for a while, but now they’re best friends again. Besides, he’s seen the failure of too many relationships to believe in happy endings. Now, he’s just playing it safe to avoid having his heart broken and his life made more messy than it already is. Then Oliver reappears in his life. The two had been good friends once, but Nick had always regretted not telling Ollie his true feelings. Will Nick finally work up the nerve this time, or will he be too scared to reveal himself once again? This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story is an appealing story populated with a diversity of characters. Callender has penned a rom-com that draws in the reader and helps them understand that sometimes you have to take a chance to reach your dreams. (HarperCollins)

The Fever King by Victoria Lee is the story of a young immigrant teen caught between love and an oppressive government seeking to exploit his abilities. Noam is a bisexual, biracial Jewish and Latinx 16-year-old boy who has spent his young life defending the rights of immigrants who are subject to random magic attacks. Things take a turn for the worse when he wakes up alone in a hospital room, the sole survivor of a viral magical attack that killed his entire family and left him with the ability to control technology. The applications for such an ability are endless, especially for a corrupt and evil government bent on control and domination. Understanding the potential of his abilities, the minister of Carolinia offers to reveal the science behind the magic. Noam accepts, thinking he can use his powers against the government from the inside. All that changes when he meets and falls for Dara, the biracial gay son of the minister. At first Noam thought Dara was as cruel and dangerous as he was beautiful. It’s not long before he realizes first appearances can be deceptive, and that the pair have more in common than he originally thought. A romance slowly blossoms between the two, but the powers of magic and state are aligned against this match. (Skyscape)

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The Athena Protocol by Shahim Sarif is the young-adult debut of the award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and director. Jessie Archer is a young and very ambitious member of the Athena Protocol, an elite group of socially conscious, female special agents. Each special agent is highly intelligent and trained in skills from coding to weaponry. Their mission is to exact their own form of vigilante justice across the globe against those who do harm to women and children. When she feels left out of the Protocol’s efforts against a human trafficking ring, the politically connected but hot headed Jesse goes rogue and launches her own investigations to take down kingpin. But there’s no one to watch her back when she’s on her own, and she just might get more than she bargained for when the truth is finally revealed. To make matters worse, Jesse is falling in love with the evil she seeks to take down. Sarif populates her books and films with courageous female characters who inspire, and The Athena Protocol follows in that tradition. (Harper Teen)

The Prom: The Novel by Saundra Mitchell, with Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar is a laugh-out-loud, feel-good novel inspired by the hit Broadway musical The Prom. It tells the story of 17-year-old Emma Nolan. All she wants to do before she graduates this year is to dance at the prom with her secret love. But Emma lives in the small conservative Indiana town of Edgewater, and her secret crush is a girl. Alyssa Greene is the “in” girl at school. She’s the popular head of the student council, daughter of the PTA president, and she’s been secretly dating Emma for the past year and a half. When rumors start flying that the pair are planning on going together to the prom, the PTA led by Alyssa’s mom threatens to cancel the event altogether. Enter Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman, two Broadway stars who take up the pair’s cause and maybe get a little extra publicity in the process. Their good intentions go quickly south and only when all sides come together can they find common ground for inclusion and acceptance. (Viking)

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar is the poignant, heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting story of three friends coming of age during the early 1980s. Michael, James, and Becky are best friends. Michael’s brother Connor was kicked out of the house by their father, so the boy decides it’s best to lay low for the time being. Laying low in the shadows in nothing new for Michael. His best friend James is the popular one of their group, and Michael is used to people being interested more in his friend than himself. He’s also under pressure at school, the HIV crisis is exploding, and the political climate is unwelcoming for a young gay boy. He takes to dancing away his problems and forget his father’s hateful words at The Echo. Things change for the better when Gabriel enters his life. Suddenly there’s a boy who is interested in him for who he is and not who he knows, and Michael decides to risk it all to finally be himself. Dunbar is the accomplished author of such books as Boomerang, These Gentle Wounds, and What Remains. She has worked tirelessly in the past with Ron Goldberg of ACT UP NYC, and her book includes forewards from Goldberg and other prominent community leaders and activists. (Sourcebooks Fire)

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Me, Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts is the refreshing story of a boy’s struggle to come to terms with himself amid the turbulence of his family and friends. Things aren’t going well for Chris Schweitzer. He passed out face first on the cement after taking a hit of whippets, doing one heck of a job on his nose in the process. As punishment, he’s been sent to live with his brilliant and famous physicist father who also happens to be one royal jerk. Because his actions show he can’t be trusted or something like that, Chris now must prove he can “play by the rules” before his old man will pay for college While this may seem your ordinary coming-of-age story, what sets Tebbetts’ novel apart is the dual timeline approach where an entirely different story is told following the whippets incident. Each chapter has two versions, with the use of numbers and words to identify the story told. In the alternative version of events, his parents remain unaware of the accident and life goes on normally at home. But then a spark with a straight friend quickly turns Chris into the gay third wheel, and his story about the whippets begins to unravel with some unpleasant consequences. Todd uses this two-story approach to seamlessly examine how those things we consider to be true initially can sometimes be little more than one part of a much larger picture. (Delacorte Press)

Growing Up Queer: Kids and the Remaking of LGBTQ Identity by Mary Robertson is a rational and thoughtful examination of the evolving nature of the LGBTQ identification process in children and adolescents. Robertson uses interviews and three years of ethnographic research at a LGBTQ youth drop-in center that show how they come to understand their sexual and gender identities, as well as the roles played by families, and queer media. This is a groundbreaking and timely book that reveals the complicated and ambivalent nature of the identification process. Robertson argues that queer identity is not solely about gender and/or sexual identity, but is instead an intersectional bouillabaisse of race, class, ability, and more. Growing Up Queer also looks at the heartbreaking social inequality of queerness, where society accepts some kinds of LGBTQ identification but still rejects others it does not find palatable or sufficiently socially compliant. By using their own words, Robertson gives voice to their stories from their own point of view. This is a refreshing yet deep examination of the process of identification, how it has evolved, and future prospects for change and inclusion. (New York University Press)

The Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Pete Oswald is a timely parable of truth and facts in a time of lies and obfuscation. This over-sized book is aimed at children aged three to seven, and is filled with simple yet engrossing illustrations, and a poetic narrative that is perfect for reading for the young activist-to-be. The Sad Little Fact tells the story of a fact who could not lie but was not believed. The authorities take the sad little fact and lock it away with other unpleasant facts, placing them in a locked box and burying them deep underground. But with the help of a few brave and skillful fact finders, all the sad little facts escape and let the transparency of sunshine expose the truth for everyone to see. This is humorous and inviting story that just begs to be read aloud either to or by the young reader. It is filled with color and the words bring an important message about the dangers of censorship and the liberation of truth. Winter and Oswald have both appeared on The New York Times bestsellers lists, and their effort here is a modern day parable on the importance of honesty in life. (Schwartz & Wade Books)

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Sitting Still Like a Frog Activity Book by bestselling author and children’s therapist Eline Snel is the companion to her book of the same name. Aimed at children aged 4 to 8, the book seeks to introduce the practice of mindfulness through a series of engaging and entertaining activities. The large but light book includes over 75 coloring pages, recipes, crafts, projects, stories, songs, and even an audio download. The cut outs, games, and more are all set against soothing yet colorful backgrounds that invite the reader to learn how to focus their minds, increase attention, reduce stress, and promote empathy to others. All this is accomplished in a visually welcoming format that encourages mental growth in a stress free manner. Mindfulness is a growing trend in today’s high stress society, and parents looking to introduce the benefits of this approach will find Sitting Still Like a Frog the perfect gift for the young child in their lives. (Bala Kids)

Everything Is Connected by Jason Gruhl and illustrated by Ignasi Font is designed for anyone who has every felt disconnected from society or isolated from others. It is aimed at children aged 4 to 8, and uses colorful imagery and engaging text to promote the powerful and healing concept of interconnectedness. The book opens by stating that everything is connected, and then sets about showing how every person is connected to every other living person or thing. It uses an undulating line that runs the length of the book to connect the pages and help the young reader visualize the thread that connects us all. The book shows child and adult alike how we are not isolated souls, but part of a giant, interconnected and intersectional universe, where each person has value as both an individual and as an important part of the greater community. By showing all the unexpected and delightful ways in which we are connected, Gruhl and Font show that we are more alike than different and are never truly alone. (Bala Kids)

Where’s Buddha? By Marisa Aragon Ware is the second children’s imprint from Bala Kids. Aimed at children aged 1 to 3, Where’s Buddha? is a primer showing how Buddha’s compassionate spirit can be found everywhere, both within the world as well as within one’s self. The illustrations are large and colorful, and the stylistic choices encourage the reader to further visualize the concepts within their minds. The text and subject matter are inclusive, and will help promote open hearts as well as minds later in life. Where’s Buddha? visits a variety of locales and is populated by a diversity of peoples and beings. Each page is filled with vibrant imagery and colorful pics that encourage the young reader to find the Buddha. The child is introduced to the concept of Buddha through interactivity with the book and its positive and calming messaging. (Bala Kids)

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