Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sam Dorsey and Gay Popcorn Series (Sam Dorsey and his 16 Candles and Sam Dorsey and his Dirty Dancing)

Sam Dorsey and his 16 Candles by Perie Wolford

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss.

But Sam knows that it’s not gonna happen. Or is it?

Sam Dorsey and His Dirty Dancing

Sam is turning 17 this year and he is being pushed towards adulthood too fast. He has a whole bunch of grown-up problems on his hands now. Like how to make a distant relationship with your boyfriend work? Or how to stop yourself from cheating on your boyfriend with a hot friend who wants to be more than friends? Or how to disattach yourself from your parents and follow your dreams independently? But all that is just too much for a seventeen-year-old to handle. So Sam finds himself gravitating towards Eric, a little daredevil who introduces him to fun things, like stealing, lying, drinking, smoking, and having sex.

​But we know that things like that can lead you into trouble. Sam doesn't know about that though, and he is headed towards a disaster. Somebody is just gonna have to show him the right way.

Conceptualized as a gay teen series that pays tribute to movies of the 1980s, these books were self-published by the author. Add your review of "Sam Dorsey and his 16 Candles" and/or "Sam Dorsey and his Dirty Dancing" in comments!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Exciting Personal/Professional News!

This has been in the works for a while, and I have to say I'm thrilled to announce it!

I'm the New Vice President of Digital, Communications and Community Engagement at Little Pickle Press!

Whoo- Hoo!

I really like the quality and heart so evident in every one of Little Pickle Press' books and Apps and other media, and love the foundation that supports everything they're doing - they're out to create content that gets young people and their adults talking about things that matter, towards making this a better world.

That's very much my foundation as well, for my own writing, and this blog - to create content that makes this a better world!

So what changes?

Here on this blog, not much.

I'll also continue to blog for SCBWI and lead their Team Blog at SCBWI's two major international conferences each year in New York and Los Angeles.

And I'll still be writing, evenings and weekends, towards sharing my stories with the world, too.

What will be new?

For me, cutting back all the other freelancing, and having a full-time job I'm passionate about! Working with an awesome team on the inside of a publishing/media company that I really respect! Being a Vice President (okay, my husband has been so teasing me about that one - in the nicest way!)

I'm really excited.

As I said in the fancy press release going out today,

“This is a position where my last 11 years in the world of children’s literature – blogging, interviewing, writing, radio-show producing, conference organizing, panel moderating, school visiting, diversity advocating, community building, and of course, reading, reading, reading – all come together to help me tell the world about Little Pickle Press’ stories. Stories that will make our world a better place. It’s a perfect match!”

So happy to share my good news!

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Banned Books Week!

And we're celebrating... no, we're not celebrating books getting banned, we're celebrating


The American Library Association announced the top 10 books most frequently challenged in 2014. Note that the "reasons" aren't always aligned with what's actually IN the book. For instance, there is nothing "sexually explicit" in Raina Telegmeier's "Drama" - it's a lovely young middle grade graphic novel that includes both straight and gay young teen characters having crushes. Here's the list:

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2) Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4) The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5) It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6) Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9) A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10) Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

I'm thinking that choosing to read books from this list I haven't read yet is a good start towards standing up for the FREEDOM TO READ for everyone. So I just ordered three of these from the library!

Do your bit. Talk about the banning of books, and the FREEDOM TO READ.

And exercise that freedom, if you're fortunate enough to have it – read!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Otherbound - YA Fantasy with a Bi Main Character

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive—and discover the truth about their connection.

Add your review of "Otherbound" in comments!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Who I Am - A song by the band Memoir about a transgender woman

I'm really liking this mix of anthem and dance...

(there's no video, just the song.)

Check out the lyrics:

Lyrics -
Who I Am

Well father what did you want from me,
I did what you said.
But I wish that you would turn around
And see who I am.
Well I Tried to live a lie for you,
I almost fit.
But, I think you’ve known forever now
That I am who I am.

Well I’m thinkin for myself now
And I’m seein another way….Yeah, Yeah
And I’m speakin for myself now
And theres only one thing to say, say, say

See I am who I am
I am the statement I’m makin
No need to hide it or fake it
-I just Am-
Who I am
There’s not a thing I would change
And theres just no need to explain it
-I Am-
Who I am, whoo-oo-oo-oo
Who I am, whoo-oo-oo-oo

Well It’s all out on the table now,
I said it out loud
And I’ll watch you try to figure out
How to take it all down
But if you can’t love me like I am,
I’m loving myself
Cause my story it won’t be the kind
That stays on the shelf

Well I’m thinkin for myself now
And I’m seein another way….Yeah, Yeah
And I’m speakin for myself now
And theres only one thing to say, say, say

See I am who I am
I am the statement I’m makin
No need to hide it or fake it
-I just Am-
Who I am
There’s not a thing I would change
And theres just no need to explain it
-I Am-
Who I am, whoo-oo-oo-oo
Who I am, whoo-oo-oo-oo

Don’t ever let somebody tell you that they’re better then you
Whether you’re living on the streets or playin this in your coupe
Whether you fit into the story or you’re writing your own.
I wanna hear about your struggle and where you’re comin from
I wanna celebrate and love you just the way that you are.
Don’t let em tell you that you’re wrong cause baby you are a star
and you are, who you are, who you are.

And I am who I am
I am the statement I’m makin
No need to hide it or fake it
-I just Am-
Who I am
There’s not a thing I would change
And theres just no need to explain it
-I Am-
Who I am, whoo-oo-oo-oo
Who I am, whoo-oo-oo-oo

You can find out more about the band, Memoir, here.

Monday, September 21, 2015 - Imogen falls in love with someone she's never met... Another teen girl! by KE Payne

Is it possible to fall in love with someone you've never met? Imogen Summers thinks so because it's happened to her.

Immy is a normal eighteen-year-old, with a normal life, a normal family, and a normal boyfriend. But when she finds herself falling for a girl on an Internet message board, a girl she knows only as the mysterious Fickle, her so-called normal life is suddenly turned on its head.

As her relationship with Fickle develops into more than just friendship, Immy finds another message board friend, the sweet and lovely Freddie, the perfect person to confide in. But can Freddie stay out of it when she starts to fall for Immy herself? Things are about to get complicated...

Add your review of "" in comments!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Street Dreams - A gay graffiti artist in New Zealand runs afoul of the local hip-hop crew leader (and falls in love...)

Street Dreams by Tama Wise

Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson's fallen in love at first sight.

Only thing is, it's another guy.

Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he's going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he's found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half…

Add your review of "Street Dreams" in comments!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sara - A New Student, A Gay Coming Out, and Then Students Start Dying...

Sara by Greg Herren
For Tony Martin, being a senior means being a star on the football team, classes to get through, hanging out with his friends—and dating Candy Dixon. And once he graduates, he’s getting out of Kansas and never looking back. But his best friend Glenn’s decision to come out and be openly gay at their small rural high school creates a lot of problems for the two of them. But a beautiful new student arrives at Southern Heights High—Sara. When all the kids who’ve been mean to Glenn start dying in very strange circumstances, and Glenn starts acting strangely, it’s up to Tony and Candy to get to the bottom of what’s going on in their school—before it’s too late for them.

Add your review of "Sara" in comments!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Timothy - a gay romance suspense thriller

Timothy by Greg Herren

The memory of Timothy haunts every corner of Spindrift, the beautiful mansion on the Atlantic shore. His face was flawless, his body breathtaking perfection. Everyone who saw him loved him, desired him, wanted him—whether they first laid eyes on him in a magazine ad, on a billboard, or on a box of underwear. No one ever forgot him, once they had passed through his orbit. They remember his wit, intelligence, and sense of style. He was the perfect match for wealthy Carlo Romaniello. Spindrift was the perfect backdrop for the glamorous couple, and the unforgettable, fabulous parties they hosted there. But then tragedy took Timothy, and darkness descended on the beautiful house on the beach. Carlo closed the house, and its secrets remained hidden within.

When Carlo reopens the house as a home for himself and his new young husband, those old secrets begin to creep out into the light. And those secrets might just prove deadly for his new spouse, a young man who has to compete with the memory of the unforgettable Timothy…

Add your review of "Timothy" in comments...

Friday, September 11, 2015

Stray - A World Where Magic Is A Curse Only Women Bear (And There's An LGBTQ Twist)

Stray by Elissa Sussman
Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

Add your review of "Stray" in comments!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Families, Families, Families! - A Picture Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was A Little Kid

Families, Families, Families! By Suzanne Lang and Max Lang

Moms, dads, sisters, brothers and even Great Aunt Sue appear in dozens of combinations, demonstrating all kinds of nontraditional families. Silly animals are cleverly depicted in framed portraits, and offer a warm celebration of family love.

The text is simple. The pictures (a mix of photos and drawings) funny.

And the message is spot-on:

If you love each other, you are a family

I'm a fan. And I wish this had been around when I was a kid. Glad it's around now.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Amy Boggs (Donald Maass Literary Agency): Agent Looking For Diversity


That's the idea. And this series is an effort to do just that.

For now we're focusing on agents, and today's post features agent Amy Boggs of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Agent Amy Boggs

Here's Amy's bio:

Amy Boggs is a sci-fi/fantasy geek and agent at the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City. She has been with the agency since 2009, having previously worked at a psychiatry magazine, a college library and a children’s bookstore. She can be found on Twitter @notjustanyboggs and blogging bi-monthly at Pub Hub (

And here's our interview:

Lee: Hi Amy!

Amy: Hi Lee!

Lee: Thanks so much for agreeing to talk about your interest in Diversity in Children's and Teen Literature!

Amy: My pleasure! Thanks so much for having me.

Lee: There's been growing discussion about how the 5,000 or so traditionally published books a year don't reflect the actual diversity of our world, including the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and the stunningly low numbers of representation revealed in "Children's Books by and about People of Color Published in the United States," put out by the CCBC (The Cooperative Children's Book Center.)

To start us off, of the submissions you get, let's say in the past year, how many of those projects included some kind of diversity of characters or theme?

Amy: I have been getting queries for five years now, and this past year was definitely the best in terms of those queries more closely reflecting our world. I think a big part of it has been thanks to the conversations both in the sci-fi/fantasy, YA, and children’s writing communities (I represent mostly sf/f, of all age categories). I also know that things like #MSWL allow me to make sure people know that’s what I’m looking for, and over three years ago Rose Fox suggested agents make it clear on their websites that they want diverse work, so I use their template. Simply making it clear that I support and want diverse stories goes a surprisingly long way to getting those stories sent to me.

That said, I don’t have actual numbers currently, and I know if I did, they would be lower than I want them to be and than they should be. A couple years ago, I did a presentation at Sirens Conference with agents Bridget Smith, Emily Gref, Jennifer Udden, and Rachel Kory where we analyzed our queries over a period of two months. We looked at gender, race, and sexuality representation in protagonists, and the numbers were quite disappointing. I imagine they’d be improved now, but still too low. So everyone out there needs to keep writing and keep querying me! :)

Lee: Let's unpack that a bit: Are you seeing many stories featuring protagonists of color?

Amy: Depends on the definition of many. I’m definitely seeing some, and I definitely want to see more.

It’s also unclear numbers-wise because characters’ race often isn’t mentioned in a query, and character description isn’t always in the first five pages. For that Sirens presentation I mentioned, I found that the majority of protagonists didn’t have their race mentioned in any way, and many of those that did relied on descriptors rather than stating race, particularly if those descriptors presented white (i.e., if a character has red hair and pale skin, chances are they are meant to be seen as white, even though POC can have red hair and pale skin).

This gets all the more complicated for other-world sf/f where they don’t have our words for race. But to combat the reader “defaulting to white,” I think it is important to try to get race across early in the text. Writers should also be aware of their own bias in defaulting to white; for example, I often see that skin color is only mentioned if the character isn’t white. There is no reason to treat white character’s skin as though it needs no description.

Lee: Excellent point! How about LGBTQ characters, and please break that down - are you seeing lesbian characters? gay? bi? trans*? questioning? queer or gender non-conforming?

Amy: I used to bemoan the times I was reading a query and a unisex name made me briefly think the main romance was queer, until a sentence or so later it became clear the romance was straight. That doesn’t happen anymore, because now it’s not my mistaken perception; the romance is actually queer. Definitely a positive development.

That said, what I chiefly see in my queries are LGB, and while it is great to see more of those characters, there are a lot of folks left out. I sometimes see intersex characters; I have only rarely seen trans or genderqueer or asexual characters, at least specified in the query itself.

They also tend to be white and typically-abled, which reflects a problematic notion that a main character can only fit into one category of marginalization.

Lee: Yes! How about characters with disabilities?

Amy: I do see some; the disabilities tend to be mental illness and developmental disability, and even then they often feel like methods of making the protagonist “special” or for a secondary character to be a complication in the protagonist’s plot. Which is all levels of no.

So this is certainly a place my queries fall short. I need more queries with disabled characters, all kinds of disabilities, where the disability is part of who they are but isn’t the only part. And no tropes!

Lee: Are you seeing other types of diversity in the works submitted? - And please share any specific categories that spring to mind.

Amy: I’m getting more immigrant stories and more books where the setting isn’t U.S. or Europe-inspired, which is excellent. I’d also like to see more diversity of class and religion and (in adult) age. And more intersectional diversity! People have a multitude of identities and characters should, too. And there is no such thing as “too much diversity,” no matter what anyone says. Diversity is reality.

Lee: How about the creators? Are you seeing under-represented writers submitting to you?

Amy: Yes, so far as I can tell. Most of the time authors don’t mention much about themselves in queries, so I don’t know at that level, but of the authors where I get to the talking level, I do get many writers from under-represented groups. Again, though, not enough. There are certainly a lot of possible reasons for this, first and foremost that I am not doing a good enough job at making myself available to marginalized writers. At a larger level, publishing has not been welcoming to everyone. One can easily look online at how many books have been published by marginalized writers, how many have characters who are marginalized, how those books are marketed and reviewed and sold. If the situation looks dour, why try in the first place? Especially when self-publishing is an option. While I hope publishing is getting better and working against the harm in its past and present, I can also see why someone would avoid the whole situation.

That said, traditional publishing asks for an author’s time while offering an advance, whereas self-publishing asks for that same amount of time plus more time plus money upfront while offering larger per-book royalties. For those with money and time to spare, self-publishing might be a great avenue, but for those without that flexibility a lack of advance might mean they cannot publish. If traditional publishing isn’t an option, it means we lose a lot of important writers. This is not to say traditional publishing is a surefire way to make a living; far from it. But for many people, the ability to publish does depend on getting an advance versus paying upfront.

So I hope marginalized writers query me, and I hope I can represent them and fight for them in a market that isn’t always the most welcoming.

Lee: There's a lot of discussion about who has the 'right' to tell the story of an under-represented type of character. What's your take?

Amy: I think it’s a valid criticism and that readers have a right to decide not to read a book because the author is writing marginalized characters from a position of privilege. This is generally because they’ve read a few or many such books and were hurt by them and don’t want to risk spending their money or time getting hurt again; see, totally valid!

That said, valid doesn’t mean absolute, and many readers from marginalized groups can point to privileged authors who get it right. What it takes is careful research, consideration, listening, and learning. It takes being aware of what aspects of that culture aren’t open to those outside that group and respecting that. It takes a broad and deep awareness of stereotypes and the narratives that have been obsessed over, even fetishized, by outsiders. An author may create a stereotypical character with the excuse that their friend of that same group is that way, but just because something is sometimes true doesn’t mean it isn’t a stereotype. (And doesn’t mean the friend would appreciate it.)

No matter how much work is put into it or how much personal experience is drawn from, an outsider is always an outsider and so must write like one. For example, while I grew up in Utah and was well-immersed in Utah LDS culture, I am not nor have ever been LDS myself. If I were to write a story with a main character who is LDS, I know the LDS aspects of her life I would not explore because they are closed off to outsiders. An LDS author might address those aspects because it’s their culture to share.

TL;DR: I think privileged authors have the right to tell a story of an under-represented type of character, but not all stories.

Lee: That's an important distinction: A story, not all stories. And as we get to having more diverse stories published and selling, the weight on each story to represent a whole group of people or culture diminishes. Letting it be A story of an LDS character, not THE story of an LDS character.

When you're submitting projects to editors, do you think stories with under-represented characters take more 'selling' on your part?

Amy: Admittedly, my tastes run a little weird, so selling always takes some work. I haven’t noticed it yet in my own submissions, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’ve talked to editors who lost a book because the sales department was wary of the representation. Never actually stated that way, of course; everyone says things like “niche audience” and “too quiet” and “unrelatable main character.” I haven’t had it happen to me, and it doesn’t make me think twice about signing a work, but I am aware. And when it does sell, the people designing the cover and marketing might be wonderful and get it just right, or they might get it very wrong, going towards erasure or stereotyping. And if everyone at the publisher does everything perfectly, booksellers could balk or mislabel or even insist on a cover change. Again, I haven’t had this happen to me, but I’ve heard the experiences of others, and so I’ve prepared myself to go to bat for my authors and their books should it ever happen.

Lee: I often feel the sense of ‘otherness’ is transferable. That from my own experiences being marginalized (for being Gay, being ill as a teen, being Jewish, being an Atheist, etc…) I feel tremendous empathy for people who are marginalized for other kinds of ‘otherness’ as well.

Can you share what’s driving your desire to see more diversity in Children’s and Teen books?

Amy: Shonda Rhimes recently said in a speech that she isn’t diversifying TV, she’s normalizing it. That’s exactly it. The history of publishing in the U.S. is one of erasure. Diverse stories are correcting this damaging, centuries-old lie. I want to be a part of that. I can’t imagine not doing so.

Lee: Tell us about some books that highlighted or included diversity that you loved and that inspired you (maybe even ones you wish you represented). What’s a Middle Grade favorite?

Amy: Ah, asking about books I love is always the worst; there’s so many and I’m bound to miss some! I’ll just focus on two non-clients:

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (thanks to a rec on Twitter!) was wonderful. Played with fairytales in just the way I like and such a complexly real MC. I’m also a particular fan of MG that deals with the pain of growing apart from friends.

I’m currently in the middle of The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson, which is a blast. I love really clever characters getting into shenanigans.

Lee: Young Adult?

Amy: As with MG, just two non-client books:

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves totally entranced me last year. Can’t stop talking about it. Gorgeously written, wonderfully weird world, a protagonist who certainly isn’t likeable but whom I adore; what more could you ask for?

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh, which I haven’t started but I’m so excited about! I’m particularly fond of 1001 Nights, I love revenge, I love really complicated romance, just, I can’t wait to read this one.

Lee: Okay, here’s your wish list moment. What are you looking for? Put out the call...

Amy: I am always looking for all kinds of science fiction and fantasy. I also like unique contemporary YA, historical fiction, and work that challenges its genre. I particularly seek and support diverse projects and marginalized authors.

More specifically (but not exclusively), I’m really keen on high fantasy right now, especially any not set in medieval-Europe-inspired worlds. I want to be taken to lush-built worlds, to see something new to me but everyday to the characters, to feel like the cities and towns are real and keep on moving even when the main character has left.

More worlds that don’t reflect modern U.S. society; i.e., we don’t always need the patriarchy in place. I like works that really flesh out a simple “what if,” particularly if it’s just in the world-building rather than the plot.

I’d also like more of what can be called speculative or magical realism, where it’s contemporary but with a surreal twist. One of my clients, Shaun David Hutchinson, does this kind of thing and I’d love more.

Lee: And for writers reading this who feel a resonance with what you’ve shared and who want to submit to you, how should they go about that?

Amy: In the body of an email (no unsolicited attachments, please!) send a query, the first five pages, and a 1-2 page synopsis (if you have it) to aboggs[at]maassagency[dot]com

I keep my website updated to reflect what I’m looking for, so always best to check:

Lee: Getting the world of Children’s literature to better reflect the diversity of our world -- the world kids today are growing up in -- is so important. Thank you so much for working to make things better!

Amy: Thank you so much for giving me a venue to reach out to the authors who feel the same way!

Thanks Amy! Look for another AGENT LOOKING FOR DIVERSITY interview on the first Monday of next month. Until then,

Illustrate and Write On!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"My Family: My Two Dads" and "My Family: My Two Moms" - Two great new picture books I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid

I'm very excited about these new picture books, written by my good friend Claudia Harrington. They're very sweet and charmingly illustrated stories about a second grade boy learning that his new friends' families – even though they seem different than his own on the outside – aren't that different after all.

My Family: My Two Dads by Claudia Harrington, illustrated by Zoe Persico

Lenny's new to class, so Miss Fish has come up with a plan to get him to meet some new friends. He's the class reporter, and every week Lenny has an after school playdate with a different new friend, who is then featured (with Lenny's photos!) on the class billboard as "Student of the Week."

In "My Family: My Two Dads," Lenny rides home from school with Jazz in her Dad's truck that's pulling a horse trailer.

Jazz's Dad says to Lenny, "Nice to meet you. I'm Jazz's dad. Well, the short one." He winked at Jazz. 

The tall dad is Jazz's Papi, and he's a sculptor.

an interior spread of "My Family: My Two Dads"

Together, the kids feed the family's horses (Daisy and Doodles), work on their science projects, eat dinner, and do some seriously dusty square dancing! Lenny has lots of questions, like

"Who reads your bedtime story?" asked Lenny.
"Dad and Papi take turns," said Jazz. "And Doddles listens!"

The story's funny and heartwarming, ending with hugs from everyone's parents, the photo spread of Jazz as student of the week, and a final joke.

I'm featuring this book first, because as a child, seeing this possibility – a future of two happy dads with a child – would have melted my heart a little, in the best way. It would have rocked my world. I'm so happy to know it's out there in the world now.

My Family: My Two Moms by Claudia Harrington, illustrated by Zoe Persico

This first student of the week story is about Lenny going with Elsie to her house after school. They ride the bus, and Lenny meets Elsie's Mom and Mommy.

Lenny has lots of questions about how Elsie's family does things, and Elsie has just as many questions, trying to guess what kind of pet Lenny has.

"Who helps with your homework?" asked Lenny.
"I do my homework, silly," said Elsie. "But Mommy checks it. She helps if I get stuck. But I didn't!"
"Do you have a fish?" asked Elsie.

After the kids do their spelling word search homework, they try to get Wiggles, the inside cat, back inside. Mom brings a ladder to help get Wiggles out of the tree, Mommy helps get out a splinter in Elsie's finger from the wooden seesaw, and they all get to eat french fry skyscrapers with dinner!

"Do you have a turtle?" asked Elsie.
"No turtle," said Lenny, smiling. "Who makes you brush your teeth?"
"I do that myself!" said Elsie. "Mom! Mommy! The handle came off again!" Click!
An interior spread of "My Family: My Two Moms"

The broken faucet gets fixed, then a story and then it's time for Lenny's mom to pick him up.

We see the Student of the Week bulletin board with all the photos Lenny took of Elise and her family, and then we (and Elsie) get the final reveal of what kind of pet Lenny really does have.

Another super-charming story, offering young children with two moms a mirror and young children with other kinds of families a window into Elsie's two mom family – unique, quirky, and at heart, full of love... just like theirs.

These are two out of six titles in the "My Family" series, all written by Claudia Harrington and Illustrated by Zoe Persico and published by Magic Wagon, a division of ABDO Publishing.

Add your review of "My Family: My Two Dads" and/or "My Family: My Two Moms" in comments!