The Chicken House, 2009
Gender-conformity concerns – Infant-Preschool
Patrick the penguin is horrified to wake up pink one morning. Boys can’t be pink! He will be teased at school! This is the end of the world!
Patrick’s parents reassure him that it’s okay to be different, and his father pulls out a book of birds of the world to show him photographs of flamingos, half of whom are definitely boys.
But after a few days of misery, Patrick packs his knapsack, and tells his parents he’s going to Africa where he will fit in better with the flamingo flocks. To his dismay, while the flamingos are friendly, he doesn’t fit it there either. He can’t fish like they do, and he can’t fly like they do. And the water is awfully warm for a penguin.
When he returns home, he is welcomed by friends, classmates, and family alike, and gives a presentation in class about everything he learned about flamingos.
Maybe being a pink penguin isn’t the end of the world after all.
This is a great book to use with children about feeling comfortable about their differences, and also to potentially explore gender issues with.
Also available in Spanish: ¡Pink! El pingüino que se volvió rosa. Trapella Books, 2010.
StoryTyme Publishing, 2005 ISBN: 0975369903
On the way from the nursery to her parents room, a supposedly newborn baby (who can already sit up) peers into other rooms to look at other new parents, in a variety of family configurations, wondering what parents are. Told in stilted rhyme, the baby learns that parents love, sing, teach, have faith, etc. Finally she arrives at the room of her own parents, a lesbian couple.
Cartoon-like unattractive computer-generated illustrations accompany the story.
There are other books that accomplish what this book sets out to do, that are both better-written, and better-illustrated.
Seven Stories Press, 2008 ISBN: 1583228500
Every night young Bailey dreams about dresses, one on each step of an endless staircase, each dress more beautiful than the last. But when she tells her mother, and father, and brother about the dresses, and asks for help in making them, they scold her, saying “Dresses aren’t for boys.” Bailey explains that she doesn’t feel like a boy, but they each respond that she is and “that’s that!” Finally Bailey finds a friend who is also fascinated with dresses and they begin to create some together.
This is the first book depicting the experience of a child who is transgendered, or at least gender-variant. The experiences of the child, and the initial reactions of family members are accurate and realistic, as is the importance of finding an understanding friend. The illustrations are child-friendly and colorful. The story is simple and appropriate for children as young as three or four, inviting discussion between parent and child. Such books are sorely needed, and this one is a real success.