Monday, March 18, 2019

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me - A Lesbian Teen Graphic Novel Wrong-Love Story

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, Illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley's dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There's just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy's best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it's really Laura Dean that's the problem. Maybe it's Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.
Add your review of “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me” in comments!

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Queer Creators of Some of Children's Literatures Most Enduring Characters - A Fascinating Piece in The New York Times Magazine

The Gay History of America’s Classic Children’s Books:
From “Frog and Toad” to “Where the Wild Things Are,” many of the most enduring 20th-century titles share a secret language of queer compassion.

I love the title, and learning about this not-much-discussed overlap of queer history and children's literature. Two of many highlights from the article published last month:

“Frog and Toad” — a series of four picture books by Arnold Lobel, originally published between 1970 and 1979 — is not gay-themed. But it’s not not gay-themed either. The title characters are best friends, both male, who essentially spend their lives together. Toad, shorter and wartier, is a worrier. Frog, sleeker and greener, is an ameliorator....

But Lobel is careful to make Frog and Toad entirely nonsexual. They sleep apart, and Toad even dons a modest Edwardian bathing suit when he swims. Instead of innate animal passion, they model the elements of love that have to be discovered and cultivated: companionship, compromise, acceptance, good humor. They get into scrapes separately but get out of them together, which is not a bad definition of marriage....

Lobel’s gayness, when I learned of it much later, seemed like something I should have known all along; it lurked everywhere in his words and pictures. I don’t know how any parent, reading the stories aloud, uttering phrases like “Come back, Frog. I will be lonely!” in a heartsick, croaky voice, could avoid being forced into intimate sympathy with the animal and thus the author. Which is not to say Frog and Toad could turn you gay. But in their gentleness, their sensitivity to small gestures and their haze of slowly dispersing sadness, the stories were part of the literature of otherness that had been a central theme of adult fiction forever, if only more recently of children’s.
...Among the foxed hardbacks still standing sentry in my sons’ abandoned childhood bedroom are “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gorey (1963), “Strega Nona” by Tomie dePaola (1975), the “George and Martha” series by James Marshall (1972 to 1988) and several by Maurice Sendak, including “Where the Wild Things Are” (1963) and “In the Night Kitchen” (1970). Also still extant is “The Runaway Bunny” (1942) by Margaret Wise Brown; her “Goodnight Moon” (1947) would be there, too, if it hadn’t long since disintegrated, from overuse, into a pile of dark green dust.

These books are connected not merely by having found favor in our family — and probably yours; in various configurations and collections, “Frog and Toad” still sells more than 500,000 copies a year. Nor is it just their hushed contemplation of aloneness and connection that links them. It’s also that all of their authors were gay. (Tomie dePaola, at 84 the only one living, still is.)

The whole article by Jesse Green is well-worth reading!

As a queer children's book creator myself, reading this felt like a song of my tribe-within-a-tribe, and for that I'm grateful.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

DeadEndia: The Watcher's Test: Book 1 - A Middle Grade Graphic Novel with a Transgender Main Character (And Zombie Cowboys! And First Love!)

DeadEndia: The Watcher's Test: Book 1 by Hamish Steele

Barney and his best friend Norma are just trying to get by and keep their jobs, but working at the Dead End theme park also means battling demonic forces, time traveling wizards, and scariest of all--their love lives!

Follow the lives of this diverse group of employees of a haunted house, which may or may not also serve as a portal to hell, in this hilarious and moving graphic novel, complete with talking pugs, vengeful ghosts and LBGTQIA love!

Add your review of "DeadEndia: The Watcher's Test: Book 1" in comments!

Monday, March 11, 2019

7 Inspirations from Writers Day SCBWI Los Angeles - From My Panel, and The Other Conference Faculty

It was a wonderful day, and absolutely the highlight was getting to be the author on the plenary panel, speaking in front of an audience of 230 about "TMI: How Much Is Too Much" with Frances Gilbert (Editor-in-Chief, Doubleday Books for Young Readers), Cathie Chenoweth (School Liaison for the Los Angeles Public Library) and Mona White (Marriage and Family Therapist), moderated by Los Angeles' Assistant Regional Advisor, Kim Wildman.

It felt great to have, quite literally, a place at the table, and I spoke from my heart about gender, intersectionality, how kids are looking for truth (ignorance doesn't protect them) and safe space (and how books can be a safe space to explore), of lines in both publishing and for yourself as a children's book creator, and of how we should write from love (the power of hopeful endings and our thematic messages of agency and empowerment.) I even got to share a brief version of the story behind the story for Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill!

The day also included a last-minute keynote by Steve Mooser (jumping in for an ill Tamora Pierce) , an amazing conversation between Regional Advisor Sally Jones Rogan and Cornelia Funke, and so much more.

Here are seven moments that are still resonating for me:

Steve Mooser quoting Bruce Coville's advice, "Follow your weirdness."

Steve sharing Abigail Simone's reminder that "your main character is there for trouble."

Frances Gilbert's advice that, for picture books, there has to be a "reason for rhyme" and that "every word needs to count."

Alexis O'Neill's suggestion that, to help get school visits, you should "let your local indie bookstore know you do presentations."

Cornelia Funke admitting that, "sometimes a character fools you for pages and pages... and then you see behind the mask."

Frances explaining what the "List Launch" meeting is, what an editor does in it, and how books are prioritized according to feedback in that meeting. "That's how publicity and marketing budgets get made."

And the one I'm still humming...

Cornelia saying, "A storyteller used to be a sacred job, and it still is."

Oh, did I mention that the conference bookstore (Once Upon a Time Bookstore) carried Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, and that they sold a bunch of copies, and that I got to sign my books during the autograph part of the day?


Some photos from the day,

Cornelia Funke speaking with Sally Jones Rogan

Frances Gilbert

My late friend, Claudia Harrington, remembered with a Scholarship.

What an amazing experience! Thanks to the whole SCBWI Los Angeles team for including me in the conference faculty. I'm very grateful.

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

Friday, March 8, 2019

In Other Lands - A Bi Boy Goes To School In A Magical Land and Tries To Change The World

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan, Illustrated by Carolyn Nowak

The Borderlands aren't like anywhere else. Don't try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border -- unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and -- best of all as far as Elliot is concerned -- mermaids.

"What's your name?"
"Serena?" Elliot asked.
"Serene," said Serene. "My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle."
Elliot's mouth fell open. "That is badass."

Elliot? Who's Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He's smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there's Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there's her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There's even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

Add your review of "In Other Lands" in comments!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Nothing Happened - Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" Gets The YA Treatment When Sisters Bee and Hana Juggle Camp Counselor Duty With Romances (One sister with a boy, the other with another girl)

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

This modern-day retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing takes place at the idyllic Camp Dogberry, where sisters Bee and Hana Leonato have lived their whole lives. Their parents own the place, and every summer they look forward to leading little campers in crafts, swimming in the lake, playing capture the flag and Sproutball, and of course, throwing legendary counselor parties.

This year, the camp drama isn't just on the improv stage. Bee and longtime counselor Ben have a will-they-or-won't-they romance that's complicated by events that happened-or didn't happen-last summer. Meanwhile, Hana is falling hard for the kind but insecure Claudia, putting them both in the crosshairs of resident troublemaker John, who spreads a vicious rumor that could tear them apart.

As the counselors juggle their camp responsibilities with simmering drama that comes to a head at the Fourth of July sparkler party, they'll have to swallow their pride and find the courage to untangle the truth, whether it leads to heartbreak or happily ever after.

Add your review of "Nothing Happened" in comments!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Billy Porter's Tuxedo Dress (Designed by Christian Siriano) Inspires!


Lit up.

The Oscar's Red Carpet.

In Vogue, Billy explained how the Tuxedo Dress came about and how,
“My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations. What is masculinity? What does that mean?”

And as for the folks that didn't appreciate it?
"The comments are not my business. What people think about what I’m doing is not my business. I lived that already."

Go, Billy! And Bravo to you and Christian!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Girl Made of Stars - Lesbian teen Mara is navigating a difficult breakup with her ex-girlfriend when her twin brother is accused of rape by her friend

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future.

This novel deals with consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault, and was included in the ALA's 2019 Rainbow List

Add your review of “Girl Made of Stars” in comments!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Dark Beneath the Ice - A Lesbian Teen Supernatural Thriller

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

Something is wrong with Marianne.

It's not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn't been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She's losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing's rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has--everything it's convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it's owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Add your review of “The Dark Beneath the Ice” in comments!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Leah on the Offbeat - In this sequel to "Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda" (and the movie "Love, Simon"), Simon's BFF Leah is Bi (and closeted), and falling in love, while their friend group is falling apart

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Add your review of "Leah on the Offbeat" in comments!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Elle of the Ball - a middle grade basketball series (written by a basketball star!) starts with seventh-grade Elle, who has to dance with a boy, but wants to dance with another girl.

Elle of the Ball by Elena Delle Donne

Elle Deluca is a seventh grader who is tall—not just sort of tall. She’s six feet tall. And for a twelve-year-old girl, this means that her basketball team has high hopes for her changing positions and becoming their starting center. But a new position is not the only footwork she has to learn. Her class’s dance unit in gym is coming up, and that means she has to learn ballroom dance steps with a boy much shorter than her—and perform publicly for a grade. And who Elle really wants to dance with is the new girl, Amanda.

Add your review of "Elle of the Ball" in comments!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel - a middle grade retelling of (and then a sequel to) the Halloween movie. And this time, there's a teen girl-on-girl crush!

Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches, the Sanderson sisters, from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on earth to torment Salem for all eternity.

Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison's seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don't quite go as planned, it's a race against time as Poppy and her friends (including her crush Isabella) fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches' latest vile scheme.

Add your review of “Hocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel” in comments!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Quiver - teens from opposite worlds (Zo is gender fluid in a liberal family, Libby's family are evangelical Christians) become neighbors and unlikely friends

Quiver by Julia Watts

Libby is the oldest child of six, going on seven, in a family that adheres to the "quiverfull" lifestyle: strict evangelical Christians who believe that they should have as many children as God allows because children are like arrows in the quiver of "God's righteous warriors." Meanwhile, her new neighbor Zo is a gender fluid teen whose feminist, socialist, vegetarian family recently relocated from the city in search of a less stressful life.

Zo and hir family are as far to the left ideologically as Libby's family is to the right, and yet Libby and Zo, who are the same age, feel a connection that leads them to friendship--a friendship that seems doomed from the start because of their families' differences.

Add your review of "Quiver" in comments!

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls - Four sisters (one with a crush on another girl) and the summer that changes everything

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood

As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it's hard to dream big when she's so busy taking care of everyone else.

Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a it's not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?

Kat lands the lead in the community theater's summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?

Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn't sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen...

Add your review of "The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls" in comments!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Dangerous Art of Blending In - Evan has survived his mother's abuse by being silent. And now his best friend Henry is suddenly becoming more than a friend...

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. Henry, who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse.

But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent.

Add your review of "The Dangerous Art of Blending In" in comments!

Monday, February 11, 2019

La Bastarda - An orphaned teen in Equatorial Guinea tries to find her father with the help of her gay uncle and a gang of "mysterious" girls

La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated by Lawrence Schimel

The first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father. Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of "mysterious" girls reveling in their so-called indecency. Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.

Learn more about this translation in this article by the translator here.

Add your review of "La Bastarda" in comments!

Friday, February 8, 2019


I'm really honored to be the guest on this new episode of OUTTAKE VOICES™.

Hosted by the very thoughtful (and Emmy-winning) Charlotte Robinson, the podcast series interviews “LGBT leaders & their allies”, focusing on politics and entertainment. I'm in some amazing company, with previous episodes featuring activists like Peter TatchellEvangeline Weiss, and Chad Griffin; and actors, singers, and directors like Kyra Sedgwick, Mary Wilson, and Michael Gaucher; and authors of plays and books like Brynn Tannehill and Jewelle Gomez and... me! WOW!

My interview covers a lot of ground, and I'm speaking from the heart. Having spent so many years trying to find my voice, now that I have it—well, having this opportunity to be heard means a lot.

Listen to the Lee Wind Talks New Novel "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" episode here.

My thanks to Charlotte for the opportunity, and to you, for being part of my community.

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Beauty That Remains - Three teens (one gay) struggle with loss... can music save them?

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can't stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who's struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Add your review of "The Beauty That Remains" in comments!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Brightsiders - A teenage rock star crashes, comes out (as bi), and crushes on a gender fluid bandmate

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

Add your review of "The Brightsiders" in comments!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road - Three Pakistani-American teens (one gay and closeted) road trip from NY to New Orleans

The summer after her freshman year of college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala, and religious but closeted Umar.

But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what could be a better escape than a spontaneous road trip down to New Orleans?

Add your review of "Mariam Sharma Hits the Road" in comments!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Odd One Out - Two Teen Friends Plus One New Friend Who Changes Everything by Liking Them Both

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Courtney Cooper and Jupiter Sanchez (Coop & Jupe!) have been next-door neighbors and best friends since they were seven-years-old. She's his partner-in-crime and other half. But lately, Cooper can't ignore he might want something more than friendship from Jupiter.

When Rae Chin moves to town she can't believe how lucky she is to find Coop and Jupe. Being the new kid is usually synonymous with pariah, but around these two, she finally feels like she belongs. She's so grateful she wants to kiss him...and her.

Jupiter has always liked girls. But when Rae starts dating Cooper, Jupe realizes that the only girl she ever really imagined by his side was her.
Add your review of "Odd One Out" in comments!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Starless - A nonbinary teen main character (along with a disabled teen character) in an epic fantasy

Starless by Jacqueline Carey

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

Add your review of "Starless" in comments!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dear Rachel Maddow - A Lesbian Teen Struggles with School Politics, Her Brother's Death, and Her First "Serious" Ex-Girlfriend In Letters to the MSNBC host

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Brynn Haper's life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project—and actually getting a response—Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick's death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she's stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn's archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

Add your review of "Dear Rachel Maddow" in comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Darius the Great is Not Okay - a questioning American teen is a fish out of water in his mother's home country of Iran, and then he meets the boy next door

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.

Add your review of "Darius the Great is Not Okay" in comments!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Matthew Winner, Alex Gino, and Dr. Laura Jimenez chat about their "don't miss" LGBTQ-centered books of 2018 for kids and teens

The wonderful Matthew Winner, in the third installment of his 'Don't Miss' Books of 2018 podcast (episode #480 of The Children's Book Podcast) hosts a discussion about great LGBTQ kid and teen books published last year.

It's a lovely conversation between Matthew (an elementary school librarian and writer himself), Alex (the acclaimed middle grade author of George and the new You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!), and Dr. Laura Jimenez (a lecturer at Boston University and the blogger of Booktoss, which uses a critical, social justice-oriented lens to talk about children's and teen literature.)

They bring up a lot of good points and book recommendations, including, I'm delighted to say, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" (by me!)

It's a lot of fun to listen to, and added some books to my to-be-read pile... I hope it does the same for yours!

Thanks, Matthew, Alex, and Laura!

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

"The Witch Boy" and "The Hidden Witch" - The First Two Books In a Wonderful and Smart Gender Non-Conforming Middle Grade Graphic Novel Series

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

Even magic has rules . . .

Everyone in Aster’s family is born with magic. Boys grow up to be shapeshifters; girls into witches. No exceptions.

But Aster can’t seem to get the hang of shapeshifting. Instead, he spends his time spying on the witchery lessons the girls are getting. He seems to have a knack for casting spells and wants to know more, but the only person he can share his growing gift with is Charlie, a girl from the non-magical side of town.

Then, during a night of shapeshifting practice, one of the boys goes missing. Aster knows he can search for the boy with the witchcraft he’s been secretly learning. Could breaking his family’s most important tradition save the day—or ruin everything?

The Hidden Witch

Aster and his family are adjusting to his unconventional talent for witchery; unlike the other boys in his family, he isn't a shapeshifter. He's taking classes with his grandmother and helping to keep an eye on his great-uncle whose corrupted magic wreaked havoc on the family.

Meanwhile, Aster's friend from the non-magical part of town, Charlie, is having problems of her own -- a curse has tried to attach itself to her. She runs to Aster and escapes it, but now the friends must find the source of the curse before more people -- normal and magical alike -- get hurt.

There's lots I loved about these—fast-paced, interesting magic world, well drawn, and most of all, the thoughtfulness of how strict gender roles can backfire on both people and society. 

What do you think? Add your review of "The Witch Boy" and/or "The Hidden Witch" in comments!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Safe - A Gay Teen Mystery - Was a gay student's death suicide, or murder? Kyle (also a gay teen) needs to find out.

Safe by Mark Zubro

Roger Cook is in the middle of his senior year when Kyle Davis, the most picked on kid in his high school, commits suicide. Roger agrees to write an article on Kyle for the school newspaper. As he gathers information, Roger realizes the dead boy was gay and may have been murdered. Gay himself, Roger wants to find out the truth, but this leads him to danger and the possibility of love. Roger opens himself to even greater risk while trying to make those around him safe.

Add your review of "Safe" in comments!

Monday, January 14, 2019

#QueerHistoryIsEverywhere - Play Along On Instagram! #queerasafivedollarbill

Have you ever noticed how Abraham Lincoln is everywhere?

Not just on the Mount Rushmore, and all those U.S. pennies and five-dollar bills, but on street signs,

Like this one, spotted in the Chesnut Hill neighborhood outside of Philadelphia!

On Schools,

Like Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California

and even in the London airport!

Our gay friend Lincoln is everywhere!

As you may know, Abraham Lincoln's letters to Joshua Fry Speed—letters that make it pretty clear that Abraham loved Joshua—are the secret from history that inspired my debut YA novel, Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill.

So now, join me over on Instagram and let's tag both




Because reminders of men who loved men in history - specifically, Abraham and Joshua - are everywhere, and that's a great thing to point out!

It helps to counter the false narrative that the only people who mattered in history were straight, white, rich, cis-gendered, and able-bodied men.

And, it's a nice way to spread the word about this novel that's all about empowering LGBTQ teens and their allies!

Thanks for playing along,

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

No Holding Back - Gay Teen Romance on a Whirlwind Vacation in Europe

No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista
Everyone knows that Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston—everyone except Preston. Nathan has always accepted that Preston was too focused on his swim training to worry about love. But Preston is heading off to train for the Olympics soon, so if Nathan wants his chance at love, he has to speak up now. But saying “I love you” is surprisingly difficult, even for someone as confident as Nathan.

Maybe a whirlwind vacation in Europe could help? But . . . what if it doesn’t work out and he loses the best friend he’s ever had?

This is the second novel in the author's Dodge Cove trilogy (No Love Allowed, No Holding Back, and No Second Chances). Add your review of “No Holding Back” in comments!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hurricane Child - Caroline, a 12 Year Old Black Girl on St. Thomas crushes on another girl, while being stalked by a spirit and trying to find her missing mother

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She's hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won't stop following her, and -- worst of all -- Caroline's mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend -- and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother -- before Caroline loses her forever.

This middle grade book received starred reviews from
Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist! Add your review of "Hurricane Child" in comments!

Monday, January 7, 2019

I'm doing the Writers Happiness Challenge! (Starting Today) If you're a writer too, I hope you'll join in...

My friend Lori Snyder, a writer herself and the leader of yoga and mediation sessions at the SCBWI Summer Conferences for many years, is once again leading her fellow writers on a "Writers Happiness Challenge."

As Lori explains on the signup page, the Writers Happiness Challenge takes five minutes a day, and is a

“series of curated daily exercises designed to help you expand your happiness, access flow states with greater ease, and create more space for and around your writing. It’s for all writers of any kind, and it’s free.

These exercises are not writing prompts in the traditional fashion. Some of them don’t even involve writing, though many of them do. They are happiness prompts written specifically for writers, designed to help create a baseline of happiness to lead to more creativity and innovation and a deeper joy around life and your writing.

You can do the challenge on your own, with your writers group, or with a writing buddy. It’s free and accessible to all.”
What does happiness have to do with writing? Lori shares,

“new studies are showing that the best emotional state for innovation and creativity is a state of high energy and positivity. In other words, it’s looking as though happiness fuels creativity more than any other emotion. Happiness does lots of other happy things, too. It makes us more able to see ourselves, our art, and our lives with more clarity, thus allowing us to see how and when we might fit in pockets of writing time. It reminds us what we care about most and how to make space for that. And, not least of all, it feels good.”

And Lori is absolutely a friend an ally to our LGBT community, so we can all feel welcome to be our true authentic selves in her Writers Happiness Community!

You can find out all the details and sign up here:

Here's to a happy and creatively fulfilling 2019 ahead!

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