by JR and Vanessa Ford
illustrated by Kayla Harren
"For as long as I could remember, I knew I was a boy". And so begins one child's journey as he stands tall in his real gender and takes on his new name, Calvin, supported by his parents, brother, grandparents and by his school. And if that all makes this book sound 'worthy', think again. It really is full of joy. The protagonist's face glows and shines more and more with each page; the gestures and facial expressions we witness amongst Calvin's family members as they embrace their son/grandson is truly life-affirming. As Calvin's Dad says, "We love you if you are a girl, boy, neither, or both".
This narrative is unusually (for picture books) non-binary in its approach and is also very refreshing for not over-explaining Calvin's gender identity. Calvin isn't a boy because... Calvin just is Calvin. And his surrounding world just adjusts itself to him. The simple alterations made to the school environment alone role model good practise. The book also tells a 'real' story with plenty of lightness- there is a visit to Gigi and Papa, splashes and dives at Water World, superhero costumes to fashion for the comic convention. Some lovely little touches in the classroom scene illustrations: teacher Mr J's strikingly assembled dreadlocks; 'casual' disability images include a wheelchair user, a child who wears a hearing aid, a child with vitiligo; completely ungendered breaktime play- Calvin simply picking up his skipping games with friend, Violet, where he left off.
'A brilliant primer for adults about how to embrace a trans child's identity wrapped up in an engaging children's story. What I really love is that nobody is interested in the whys and wherefores of his identity- they just accept it' (Mark Jennett, Equalities Trainer/Consultant, Letterbox Library Reviewer). 'Great book for children and adults about accepting Calvin for who he is. Really empathetic. Good to see a mixed race family central to the storyline' (Rosalind, Project Dev. Mgr., PACEY, Letterbox Library reviewer). Written by the parents of a transgender child. Age 4-7, Hardback 29pp