Friday, December 6, 2019

Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition - A YA Trans Comic Memoir



Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

Instead of a traditional written diary, Julia Kaye has always turned to art as a means of self-reflection. So when she began her gender transition in 2016, she decided to use her popular webcomic, Up and Out, to process her journey and help others with similar struggles realize they weren’t alone.

Julia’s poignant, relatable comics honestly depict her personal ups and downs while dealing with the various issues involved in transitioning—from struggling with self-acceptance and challenging societal expectations, to moments of self-love and joy. Super Late Bloomer both educates and inspires, as Julia faces her difficulties head-on and commits to being wholly, authentically who she was always meant to be.

You can watch this episode of Nerd Out with Jessie Gender where Julia spoke with Jessie about the web comic and the book, as well “the forgotten nuances and everyday struggles of transitions that are never discussed by the general public, as well as what it means to be transgender once you finish the major steps in your transition.”

Add your review of "Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition" in comments!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Heavy Vinyl - A Lesbian Teen Stumbles Into a Teen Girl Vigilante Fight Club (A Middle Grade and Up Comic Book Series Opener)



Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin Illustrated by Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores.

New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie.

But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl…her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

Add your review of "Heavy Vinyl" in comments!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Moonstruck, Vols. 1 – 6 - A Middle Grade Lesbian Fantasy Comic Book Series



Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle.

Volume 1:
Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it's up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it's too late.


Volume 2:

Julie, Selena & third-wheel Chet go on a werewolf-y date to a shady magic show. Something TERRIBLE happens, and for once it's not Mark or Lindi's fault!


Volume 3:

Poor Chet. Their centaur butt is missing, and on the day of the homecoming parade, no less! But don't worry: Julie and Selena are on the case (as long as Mark and Lindi don't ruin everything [again]).


Volume 4:

Julie and the gang go on the offensive to track down those horrible magic tricksters by going undercover. But can they outfox a fox? Like a literal fox? A literal fox who is a DARK MAGICIAN?? Oh man, honestly, I would cross my fingers for them if I were you.



Volume 5:

Wait, really? This is the end of the arc? No way, you can't possibly wrap this up in one issue! Julie and Selena are in a fight! Chet doesn't have their centaur butt back! Don't tell me that horrible fox magician is getting away with this!! These must be an action-packed 22 pages, I'll tell you that much.

Volume 6:
Welcome to the beginning of the second arc of Moonstruck, that popular middle-grade/all-ages lesbian-werewolf-barista romance adventure you've been hearing so much about! Fresh off their latest hijinks, Julie and the gang try to unwind at a fraternity party hosted by a group of fairy bros. But like everything else in Blitheton, things are not as they first appear, and before you can say, "hey don't drink that or you'll be trapped in the fairy circle for all eternity," another round of magical hijinks has begun!

Add your review of any or all of the volumes of “Moonstruck” in comments!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Anger Is a Gift - A Gay Teen Boy Deals With Panic Attacks, Meeting a Cute Guy, And Figuring Out What He's Going To Do When Tragedy Strikes A Second Time



Anger Is a Gift: A Novel By Mark Oshiro

Moss Jeffries is many things—considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else—someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school—he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations—it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change—but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Winner of the 2019 ALA Schneider Family Teen Book Award! Add your review of "Anger is a Gift" in comments!

My thanks to awesome high school librarian Elizabeth Abarbanel for the heads-up on this one!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People - Can We Make This Required Reading In Schools?


I'm reading the adult version of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, and I'm stunned and humbled by so many things. Top among them are:

How I didn't know so much of this history (because it wasn't taught to me in school.)

But also how I never bothered to dig into it on my own (because I just accepted the narratives I'd been raised on, that didn't say anything about genocide with the goal of stealing native lands.)

And as we're about to celebrate Thanksgiving, I find myself not just ambivalent, but upset. I don't know that I can wish anyone a 'Happy Thanksgiving' without thinking about the 2nd grade art project I crafted all about pilgrims and "indians" being friends and having a big feast together.

I'd heard about Andrew Jackson and the horrifying forced march "trail of tears" from when my daughter studied that in school, but that isn't a unique example. Genocide is the right word, and this history book is packed with examples and primary source evidence, like this quote from U.S. Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”

When I finish the adult edition, I'll jump into the one crafted for teens, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People (ReVisioning American History for Young People #2) By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese.

In the meantime, I'll recommend that you all join me in learning about the troubling foundation of our nation's founding and expansion "from sea to shining sea." Because debunking the myths is the first step. The book really does accomplish what the publisher blurb says: "radically reframes U.S. history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative."

One thing I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving is that I'm (at long last) getting educated about this.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee



Monday, November 25, 2019

When Aidan Became a Brother - A Picture Book with a Trans Child Excited (and Nervous) About A New Baby Sibling On The Way (Definitely a Picture Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid!)



When Aidan Became a Brother By Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does "making things right" actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

The whole message of the story is so beautifully encapsulated by the party balloons for the arrival of Aidan's little sibling...



It's a Baby!

Yes.

Even in the dialog, there's a scene where:

"Are you having a boy or a girl?" asked a lady.

Aidan didn't like it when people asked if he was a boy or a girl, and he hoped the baby couldn't hear yet. He was glad when Mom just smiled and said, "I'm having a baby."

I loved this picture book. I think you will, too.

The author's note, where Kyle shares what parts of his own story are the same as Aidan's (when he was born, everyone thought he was a girl, too) and what parts are different... And these words really resonated for me:

Aidan is a transgender kid, but he's also just a kid. Like you.
Life for Aidan, and for all different kinds of kids, will be full of growth and change. I don't know what the future holds for him, but I hope he lives in a world that supports and believes in him. Thank you for helping to create that world.

Yeah. Let's create that world, together.

Add your review of "When Aidan Became a Brother" in comments!

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Cardboard Kingdom - a Young Graphic Novel (with an ensemble that includes LGBTQ Characters and Themes)



The Cardboard Kingdom, created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez.

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters--and their own inner demons--on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be--imagine that!

On the ALA's Rainbow List, this book was also named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews, The New York Public Library, and School Library Journal

Add your review of "The Cardboard Kingdom" in comments!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Today is Trans Day of Resilience 2019 - Celebrate With Trans Art and Poetry "to Uplift Black Trans Power and Liberation!"

This is really wonderful! Re-naming the "Transgender Day of Remembrance" to the "Trans Day of Resilience" is smart and important - words have power!

From the press release:
Led by Forward Together, a national women of color-led organization, whose mission is to unite communities to win rights, recognition and resources for all families, the TDOR art project acknowledges how violence disproportionately impacts trans people of color. The art project simultaneously uses visual art and poetry to uplift trans power and resilience. Trans artists and poets of color are telling their own stories of resistance, hope and liberation.

“Forward Together is honored to present this project to the world for the sixth year in a row,” said Micah Bazant, Forward Together Artist in Residence. “At a time when white supremacy and anti-trans oppression are killing trans women of color, we offer this art to share our vision of trans freedom. Trans communities of color have always existed and have always used art to survive. As the government tries to erase trans people from laws and policies, art and culture are especially critical. There is no way to erase the beauty and power of trans resistance.”
Some highlights:




I'm cheering for Black Trans power and liberation!

View and read more of the art and poetry here.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cursed - a Teen Girl Fights the Pain of a Chronic Illness Amid Her Parents' Divorce and an Unfriendly New School (but she has an awesome Lesbian sister)



Cursed By Karol Ruth Silverstein

As if her parents' divorce and sister's departure for college weren't bad enough, fourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom has just been diagnosed with a life-changing chronic illness. Her days consist of cursing everyone out, skipping school--which has become a nightmare--daydreaming about her crush, Julio, and trying to keep her parents from realizing just how bad things are. But she can't keep her ruse up forever.

Ricky's afraid, angry, alone, and one suspension away from repeating ninth grade when she realizes: she can't be held back. She'll do whatever it takes to move forward--even if it means changing the person she's become. Lured out of her funk by a quirky classmate, Oliver, who's been there too, Ricky's porcupine exterior begins to shed some spines. Maybe asking for help isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe accepting circumstances doesn't mean giving up.
Normally, a sister or best-friend being Queer (and wonderful) isn't my first choice to spotlight on this blog, but Cursed is exceptional in so many ways.

It's powerful – an #OwnVoices YA about chronic illness - chronic pain - and it's real in a way afternoon specials never were.

It's thoughtful in the whole exploration of Ricky's cursing, and while there are plenty of curse words used in the novel, it really gets into the power of words as both a coping mechanism, and a tool (for both bad and good.)

It's hopeful in a real way -- there's no miracle 'cure' and the character knows this. That's part of what's so difficult for her, but it's a part of the book that makes it practically sing to those of us who have had chronic illnesses for which we were told there was no cure. (It's painful. It's shitty. It's completely out of your control but you have to be a teenager and deal with both challenges at the same time.)

It resonates with our shared humanity - I didn't have what Ricky (or the author, my friend Karol) had, but when I was 13, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (painful. shitty, completely out of my control...) I've read a lot of YA and middle grade, but this is the first time that part of me felt seen. Heard.

It's retroactive, but this book healed my inner teen a bit.

The one who would have loved this book so much.

And hey, just like Ricky, I had an awesome queer sibling, too. (But I didn't know that for years to come.)

But this isn't about me, it's about Cursed. An amazing novel by my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein.

It was even a Junior Library Guild selection! I can't recommend it highly enough.

Add your review of "Cursed" in comments!


Friday, November 15, 2019

Final Draft - 18-year-old Fat, Pansexual, Ecuadorian-American Laila Tries To Figure Out How To Be a Great Writer... and How To Live



Final Draft By Riley Redgate

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories. But just before her graduation, Laila’s creative writing teacher and number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing. A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval leads to a series of unexpected adventures. With her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

Add your review of "Final Draft" in comments!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Best At It - A Middle Grade novel about a Brown, Gay, and Anxious Boy Dealing With Seventh Grade in Small Town Indiana


Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge.... But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

Interviewed in CBC Diversity's October 2019 newsletter about this, his debut middle grade novel, Maulik said:

“I read so many books as a kid, but I never, ever saw brown or gay characters in the stories I read. I could have used that kind of representation. It would have been very validating, very powerful, as a child to have been able to see my own experience reflected back in a book. So, a big inspiration was the fact that I believe there’s a need for diverse books for young people that address intersectionality. Kids are so much more than one thing. I happened to be brown and gay and dealing with some anxiety…and I hope that sharing my story offers “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors” to so many young people.”

The novel has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Add your review of "The Best at It" in comments!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Here's a Theory: The Statue of Liberty is... a Man!

Well, based on a man.

So the assumption has always been that the French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, modeled Lady Liberty off his mother. But author and journalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a different theory, as reported in "Secrets of America’s Favorite Places", and told to the New York Post:
“As I was looking at it more carefully, the structure of the face isn’t really the same. [His mother] has a more arched eyebrow, has a thinner nose, has thinner lips, even in her youth. And he was a bust-maker … and was known for his accuracy,” Mitchell tells The Post.

“Going through photos he had in his files of his brother, I started to look at the face more carefully, and it really did look to be like Liberty. His brother in his adult years had actually gone mad, and it was Bartholdi’s task to go once a week to visit, sometimes [spending] hours just staring at his brother, who was not speaking.”

Here's a close-up view of a copy of Lady Liberty's face, from the museum under the statue:


And here's a photo of Frédéric's brother, Jean-Charles:


So why would it even matter?

The Statue of Liberty is still iconic, based on a woman or a man. Still amazing. Still a beacon of hope for what America stands for.

But, knowing “Lady Liberty” may actually be the likeness of a beloved young man adds a lovely LGBTQ hue to the oxyidized copper green-blue statue's welcome to America.

Should we think of her as a man in drag? Pride.com suggests she might be a drag queen. The wonderful Peter Tatchell Foundation asks, in their Oct 24, 2019 newsletter where I first read about this, "Is the Statue of Liberty a giant drag queen? Could it be based on a Frenchman called Jean Charles Bartholdi? Well, 'Lady Liberty' is a great drag name!"

At the very least, if she's really based on Jean-Charles, it's pretty gender non-conforming!

Queer history really is everywhere.

Giuseppe Milo [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Hold up your torch, Lady Liberty, and be proud of who you are—no matter who you're based on.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Lee


Friday, November 8, 2019

The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers - Young Readers Will Love The Magic & Mystery (And Oliver's Best Friends in 3rd Grade, Twins Teenie and Bea, have Two Dads!)



The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch, illustrated by Shane Pangburn

Eight-year-old Oliver dreams of being a professional magician, even though he has terrible stage fright. And now, his friends Teenie and Bea have gotten him invited to a classmate's birthday party as the paid entertainment! Desperate for help, he visits The Great Zoocheeni's Magic Emporium, but comes away with nothing more than a moth-eaten top hat.

Oliver is in for a lucky surprise, though. Inside that top hat hides a wisecracking rabbit named Benny, who agrees to help Oliver with his act. But at the party, Oliver is accused of robbery! He'll need to solve the mystery of the missing robo-cat to clear his name before he and Benny can amaze the crowd with their grand finale.

Pseudonymous Bosch is the "infamously anonymous" New York Times bestselling author (of the Secret Series) and very nice guy who may or may not be "the alter ego of Raphael Simon, a totally unrelated author who lives in Pasadena, California, with his husband and twin daughters."

"The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers" even has a magic trick for the chapter book's readers to learn at the end! Add your review in comments!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride - a Lovely Picture Book About Rainbows, and Our Rainbow Families, for Ages 3 and Up



Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart, Illustrated by Anne Passchier

"A sweet ode to rainbow families, and an affirming display of a parent's love for their child and a child's love for their parents. With bright colors and joyful families, this book celebrates LGBTQ+ pride and reveals the colorful meaning behind each rainbow stripe. Readers will celebrate the life, healing, light, nature, harmony, and spirit that the rainbows in this book will bring."

Michael has written something simple and powerful, and Anne's illustrations are inclusive of many kinds of LGBTQ families, made up of many colors and types of people. Especially love the two dads kissing as they push their child in a stroller in the final celebratory spread.


This is definitely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid!

Add your review of "Rainbow: A First Book of Pride" in comments!

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 2019 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Hi Community, here's the latest!



Watch the under-four-minutes video by clicking the still frame above or clicking here: https://youtu.be/ljtia5QvFN4

Transcript:

Hi Community, It’s November 2019, I’m Lee Wind, and this is my Video Newsletter, that's all about informing, updating, and hopefully inspiring YOU.

Queer History is Everywhere!

Robert Indiana is this famous POP artist who came up with the famous LOVE statue, you know, with the letters in a stack with the "O" on a slant? It's everywhere, all over the world. There's one in Israel, there's one in Washington, D.C. that's in Italian, there's one in the city I grew up in, Philadelphia, there's one at the college I went to, University of Pennsylvania, there's one in New York, they're all over the world, there was even a postage stamp!

And it's really exciting, because today, I learned that Robert Indiana was gay! In the 1960s, he had a relationship with another artist, Ellsworth Kelly, and it's just really cool that this icon of love that I've grown up with, this pop art thing that's been so popular, and loved by so many people, was from a gay artist. Queer history really is everywhere!

Lee Wind Author Update

Some months, it’s just about doing the work, and November is that kind of month.

Linda Sue Park taught me this great technique, it's called a 12 minute writing sprint, I set the timer on my phone for 12 minutes, and I tell myself I just have to focus for that much time. And I do it every day. Some days I'm able to do more than 12 minutes, if I'm on a roll, I'll hit the timer to do again, another 12 minutes, and another 12 minutes, but some days all I have is 12 minutes. But you know, piece by piece, day by day, I'm building the new novel, and I'm really excited about it!

Readers Say

Andrea @stargirlriots, is a reader in Cape Town, South Africa, and they tweeted on Oct 27th,

“I just finished the audiobook of Queer as a Five Dollar Bill by @LeeWind and !!!!!! (6 exclamation points) I have never reacted to a book SO much! I’d be “exactly! Thank you!!!” Talking back, eyebrows f-ing raised while I “yah! But—“ All. The. Way. Through. 10/10 recommend!"

Thanks, Andrea! I love that you loved the book, and I love that it's being read, and listened to, on the other side of the world. And when it reaches readers, and it effects them like that, that's what it's all about.

Events

I had a great time at Models of Pride - there were over 1,400 LGBTQ and Allied teens there. I had a great session where we talked all about discovering LGBTQ history, and one of the attendees, a teenager, even sketched me!

I've been interviewed for a new podcast called “The Premise” which is all about the story behind the storytellers. I'm really excited, it's a brand-new podcast, I've very grateful to Jennifer Thompson and her husband Chad who had me on, and I'm looking forward to that launching in the next couple of months – I'll let you know.

Also, Nov 21 coming up, I'll be moderating a panel at my local high school of their pride project GSA group and I'm really looking forward to that!

Reading In, Writing Out

This month, I’m really enjoying…

Wayward Son

It's the follow-up to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which is sort of a gay Harry Potter book, but this time Baz, and Simon, and Agatha, and Penelope are all in America… And there's a road trip, and you don't know where it's going at first, but man, it builds up and gets really exciting, and I can't recommend it enough.

Inspiration

“Stories are truer than true. There's a quote from Neil Gaiman's Coraline: ‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ We absorb that, and it makes the next dragon a little more survivable.”

I love that. It's from A.J. Hackwith, a queer writer of science fiction and fantasy, author of The Library of the Unwritten, who was interviewed in Shelf Awareness Oct 25, 2019.

Thanks A.J., and thank you, Neil!

Want more? Check out I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? at leewind.org

Until then, the light in me recognizes the light in all of you.

Thanks!

***

Thanks to the team at lgbthistorymonth.org for including Robert Indiana in their Icons of LGBTQ history this past November. They're a great resource for learning more about our Queer History!