Friday, March 29, 2019

Bunnybear - A Picture Book About Being Your Authentic Self (And Finding Your Place In The World) That I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was A Little Kid



Bunnybear by Andrea J. Loney, Illustrated by Carmen Saldaña

Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. He prefers bouncing in the thicket to tramping in the forest, and in his heart he's fluffy and tiny, like a rabbit, instead of burly and loud, like a bear. The other bears don't understand him, and neither do the bunnies. Will Bunnybear ever find a friend who likes him just the way he is?

From the moment Bunnybear sees the group of bunnies and I read the line,

“They were tiny, and fluffy, and bouncy, like Bunnybear's heart.” 

This picturebook captured my heart.

The wonderful Bunnybear


Bunnybear's story is told with such love, and respect.

This book is a powerful way to let gender-expansive, gender non-conforming, and transgender children know that they are not alone, and that there is a loving place for them in the larger community.

And this book is also so important for cis-gendered children (and adults!) to help them recognize that not everyone who looks like they are a specific gender really is a person who identifies with that gender. Just like Bunnybear looks like a bear, but feels like a bunny on the inside. And Grizzlybun looks like a bunny, but feels like a bear on the inside.

I'm excited for Grizzlybun to have a story of their own someday. And until then, I'm so grateful that Bunnybear is here for all of us to read and share...

Bunnybear was included on the ALA's 2018 Rainbow List! You can add your review of "Bunnybear" in comments!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Frost's "The Road Not Taken" and Machado's "Traveler, your footprints" - Two Poems in Conversation

This idea of these two poems being in conversation was shared by Emma Otheguy at #KidLitCon2019, and it's still resonating for me.

Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," that ends with the lines,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And Antonio Machado's "Traveler, your footprints," that so eloquently contrasts with these lines,

Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
...
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship's wake on the sea.

Frost's poem is the classic I learned about in school here in America, but I so prefer Machado's perspective on life. There are more than two paths. There are infinite paths, and our steps make them, like "wake[s] upon the sea."

Here's those final two lines of Machado's poem in their original Spanish,

"...
Caminante, no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar."

I find this vision so encouraging, and inspiring. Click the links above to read both poems in their entirety.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Highlights of #KidLitCon2019

What an awesome weekend! It was great seeing friends (tried and true and new) and being immersed in this wonderful community of authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, and children's and teen book bloggers!

Some of the moments still resonating for me:

#1
My panel, Reaching Readers: Getting Your Book To Kids was a blast!

Left to Right: Anika Denise, Barbara Fisch, Me(!), Debbie Kovacs, and Josh Funk

We played games (the one-minute timed elevator pitches were fun—and well-received),  spoke about strategies, working with publishers and bookstores, online communities, the importance of planning ahead and making checklists, and supporting others. (And, in a humbling moment, I learned to be more careful with my language.)

The session ended with Anika reminding us all of balance, and how while we have to spend time getting our books to kids, it's also important to make time to write the next book. It was a really wonderful panel!

#2
The many moments of inspiration and insight, some of which were captured by myself and others on twitter. Here are 17 of them:

children of color become "experts in whiteness" while children of the dominant (read: white) culture know nothing about their peers of color. - at

"Magic is about power... Spirituality and belief systems are also about power." Zetta Elliott talks respect and subverting expectations on the "Diverse Fantasy in the Real World" at

"So many different parts of my life are in the book, in a kaleidoscope way." -Ann Bradley at

“Tell the story as true as possible.”

“You have to tell children, ‘you can walk your self out of ANYTHING.’” - @kidlitprov

"We all deserve to be part of the conversation."


"What if queerness in picture books was as ubiquitous as red hair?" stories centered on red hair, and stories just about them being kids. "Every kid is the hero of their own story." - at

"Kids want to read what other kids recommend." Melissa Fox at , with Ms. Yingling and Sam Musher

"Write the thing that's gonna get you up in the morning and keep you up late at night." -

"You find a way out. Where is that way to get to hope? Find that one crack so that kids know that somehow, there is gonna be a way through." -

"I wanted my writing to get the best of my day." on getting an early (as in 4:15am) start to his creative work.

"Goofy enthusiasm" - shares her most important ingredient in getting books to kids at

"This is my year of convincing myself that character IS plot... how they react to things is plot." -Leslie Connor at

"to survive in school... I learned that I had to put away my Latinx identity." speaks of what motivated her to become the proud Latinx author she is today.

Sharing hope w readers is key. -

“I hear people say, ‘We’d love to have your books in our school, but we don’t have any black kids.’ That’s EXACTLY why you *need* them!” - at

“To me all division ends when the story rings true” on &

#3
The chance to share about my own Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, how it is the story of my heart, and even sign copies purchased by wonderful people!





Gratitude to Charlotte and all the other volunteer organizers, and to Katie at Barrington Books!

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

Guess who's at #KidLitCon19? Me!


I'm excited to be in Providence, Rhode Island, for the 2019 annual KidLitCon — the official theme of the conference is "Reaching Readers" and my own personal theme is "Community" — connecting in person to my/our community of bloggers about children's and teen literature.

The conference schedule includes a panel I'm on (and moderating): Reaching Readers: Part 1 Getting Books to Kids


Here's the program description:

Great books need great readers; great readers need great books. But how to get the two together? This panel of authors and professional publicists and book promoters talk about strategies they use to get books into the hands of gatekeepers (teachers, librarians, reviewers, booksellers, and family), and strategies that the gatekeepers can use to make the process of discovering the right books for their kids more effective.

with Anika Denise (author of several picture books), Debbie Kovacs (co-founder of Walden Pond Press, the joint middle-grade imprint of HarperCollins and Walden Media and an author herself), Barbara Fisch (co-principal of Blue Slip Media, a children's book publicity and marketing firm), Josh Funk (picture book author and SCBWI NE Conference coordinator), and me, Lee Wind (!)

Here's my bio from the program:

Lee Wind is the founding blogger and publisher of I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?, an award-winning website about books, culture, and empowerment for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning, and Queer youth, and their Allies. For over 11 years, readers from 100-plus countries have racked up 2.5 million page views—and counting! In his “Clark Kent” jobs, Lee is the director of marketing and programming at the Independent Book Publishers Association and the official blogger for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. His Superhero job is writing, inspired by our world’s amazing—and untold—LGBTQ history. Lee lives in Los Angeles with his husband and their teenage daughter. Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill is his debut novel. Visit him online at www.leewind.org.

And it's actually 2.6 million since I submitted that bio to them!

Our panel is Saturday March 23 from 1:30-2:15pm, and there's so much more great programming on the conference schedule on both days- there's even the chance to buy books and have the authors sign them (including my own “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill”!)

I can't wait -- and if you're attending #KidLitCon19, please say hello!

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My School Visit - As An Author - At Pali High

Yesterday was a blast!

Thanks to the generosity of one of my kickstarter backers, I got to do a school visit at Palisades Charter High School here in Los Angeles.








I met with two 9th Grade English Classes, the Genders and Sexualities Alliance club, and students interested in writing and asking an author (me!) questions.

It was an awesome day, and we talked about the story-behind-the-story of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, the importance of language (homoLOVEual versus homoSEXual), how the facade of history that we're taught (that history is the story of rich, white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied, white men from Europe) is incomplete at best and misleading at worst, and how Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed are just the tip of the LGBTQ historical iceberg.

The students read aloud a few of Shakespeare's love-sonnets-to-another-guy, and we unpacked one of Sappho's amazing poems (about her love for Anactoria, and how that poem changed the world.) I told them about crowdfunding the book, about some of the nice things that have happened since publication (including the Publishers Weekly Indie Success Story article and becoming a BookLife Prize semi-finalist).

And I answered questions, about terms (like cis-gendered) and writing (what software do I use - Scrivener or Word?) and being an author (plan for a day job, at least at first.) A good number of students are writers themselves, so we also dug into craft (questions about character and setting and plotting vs. pantsing) and living a creative life (making time to write--even if it's only twelve minutes a day.)

From driving to the school and having a parking spot reserved for me, to the warm welcome and yummy lunch from my host, GSA faculty advisor and Counselor Ms. Barker, to the student escort to the office and then to the library, to the amazing librarians Ms. King and Ms. Magadan who had the space prepped and handouts ready to go and pulled lots and lots of LGBTQ titles from their collection to share with the students, to Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Moore (the 9th grade English teachers) who had prepped their classes with reading part of the book and an assignment about whether it would make a difference or not if Lincoln had indeed been in love with Joshua Fry Speed, to the supportive administration (including Dr. Magee and Ms. Iannessa), everyone went out of their way to be kind and helpful and were so gracious.

And the students were great - really engaged, really kind, really thoughtful.

I signed books (some donated from the kickstarter, some that the school purchased for the kids), and even signed one student's Rainbow Pride Flag!


And I got a T-shirt! It reads: "LOVE NOT HATE: Pali GSA"

The incredible gracious Pali High team that brought me to their school: (Left to Right): Ms. Barker, Ms. King, Me(!), Ms. Moore, and Ms. Rosenthal


Feeling grateful.

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

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!