Katie Couric did a show yesterday on “Transgender Youth,” which was really rather good, and reminded me I’d never posted about these two children’s books by author, theater artist, and parent S. Bear Bergman. Last year, Bergman launched a Kickstarter project to produce “books and more for gender-independent kids and families.” The first two picture books from the resulting micro-press, Flamingo Rampant, are colorful, fantastical tales.
Backwards Day tells of the planet Tenalp, where a child named Andrea waits eagerly every year for Backwards Day, when girls turn into boys and vice versa. One year, however, Andrea doesn’t change—until the next day, when she, now he, doesn’t change back. His parents take him to consult with the Backwardologists, who help them understand what’s happening.
The Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy, follow the eponymous Tulip, who grants wishes to all the nine-year-olds in North America. When Tulip encounters a child named David who wishes to live as Daniela, a request he’s never encountered before, he asks the Wish Fairy Captain for advice.
Both stories are told with understanding and compassion, but also with a sense of humor and whimsy sometimes missing from books about LGBT families. I like the fact that they have character development and real storylines. (I regularly get LGBT kids’ books for review that all boil down to something like: “Here’s Joey and his two moms eating breakfast. Here they are at the park. Here they are at the library. See all the normal things they do? What a normal family.” Sure, there’s some value in that; but they’re also kind of, well, boring. Give me a good storyline any day.)
Tulip seems to me a little wordy for the picture-book age range, but this may depend on the particular child reading (or hearing) it. There have been so few books that include gender independent and transgender children, though, that I really can’t complain if these have a few extra. I also wonder why Tulip gives wishes to nine-year-olds, who are most likely beyond the picture-book range. Six or seven might have been more appropriate for the audience—or maybe Bergman’s aim was to give hope to younger readers who can dream ahead to when they can live as the gender they know themselves to be.
Here are a number of other books featuring gender independent and transgender kids.
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