Long before media coverage of gender-nonconforming children became more familiar to the general public, my friends and I lamented the dearth of booksLong before media coverage of gender-nonconforming children became more familiar to the general public, my friends and I lamented the dearth of books about the transgender experience for young children. Most of the ones that exist seem to have to do with clothing, such as Ewert's 10,000 Dresses, or external gender expression, such as Kilodavis' My Princess Boy. I admit, it's really hard to show the experience of "my insides don't match my outsides." But to this cis-ally, wow, Michael Hall's book about a blue crayon in a red crayon's wrapper seems to do a darn good job of it.
Nowhere in Hall's book does it say the word transgender, or anything about gender at all. It's really a story about a crayon's attempt to meet others' expectations of it. It appears to be red -- and therefore it should be able to color things red. My very favorite page is the one in which other crayons react to Red's situation. "He came that way from the factory," says a brown crayon. With varying degrees of disgust, impatience and encouragement, all the crayons but one are convinced that with time, Red will learn to conform and fit into the mold "the factory" has created for it.
After bringing my copy of Red to school and leaving it on the easel for a few days, during which many children picked it up and enjoyed it on their own, I read it to a group of kindergarteners. At the end, I asked them what color the crayon was.
"It's blue," said one. "Of course."
"But his wrapper says red," I said.
The child gave me a disdainful look. "That's not what he says. He says right there on the page, I'm blue."
If only we could listen as well as five-year-olds....more
So much more than just a gay Justice League knockoff! Hero is a welcome addition to the current glut of overconfident, one-dimensional superhero storiSo much more than just a gay Justice League knockoff! Hero is a welcome addition to the current glut of overconfident, one-dimensional superhero stories....more