Rebecca Rea Sugar is an American animator, composer and director. She is best known for creating the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe, which has made her the first woman to independently create a series for the network
She was never meant to see Sapphire look at her like this - fascinated, bewildered, impressed - as if Ruby were the most important Gem in the universe!
What on Earth?!
LESBIAN FICTION FOR CHILDREN.
LESBIAN FICTION FOR CHILDREN.
This is the future and this is a triumph not only for the LGBTIA community but for humankind.
Not to hype this up or anything. :D *sips coffee*
So, because your child(ren) is inundated with approximately ten million billion heterosexual messages from the media every week, it's super-important to introduce the concept of queer love to them. Whatever form this takes, it would take forever to list the non-heterosexual ideas that exist in the world, I'm using 'queer' as a catchall here.
It shouldn't be a sudden surprise to the child to find out about queer love at an older age, nor is it a good idea to allow your child to be introduced to the idea of non-heterosexual love by having them hear slurs and hate-talk on the bus home from school.
So. Buy it, get it from your library... if your library doesn't own a copy, ask them to buy one. Read it with your child. Along with Red: A Crayon's Story, and any other children's literature you want to read to your child(ren). I'm not saying stop reading Corduroy and The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Monster at the End of this Book or Cinderella: A Little Golden Book or whatever. I'm only telling you that a.) it's important to introduce your child to the concept of non-heterosexual love because TRUST ME they are being indoctrinated in the heterosexual cisgender agenda almost every single second of their waking lives and b.) getting in and getting in early with loving and sweet messages is important before they learn that queer people are hated, feared, spit on, and murdered for merely existing.
Mind talking about the actual plot, Carmen?
Sure. *sips coffee*
Sapphire is psychic and three Ruby guards are assigned to protect her on Earth. Sapphire knows she's going to killed. It's inevitable. She knows the future. She accepts her fate.
But one Ruby doesn't accept this as Gospel. Instead, she breaks everything everyone knows as truth as she runs towards Sapphire and merges with her, creating a new being, Garnet, a conglomerate of the two women. As Garnet, Ruby and Sapphire are Half-Vampire, Half-Lycan, but stronger than both!!!!!
Oh, wait. That's Underworld. Never mind.
But anyway, yeah. Strong and powerful and kickass.
People are shocked.
"How did this happen?"
"This is outrageous!"
"How dare they!"
The gems, shocked that two gems of a different type could fuse together, vow "You will be BROKEN for this!"
So Sapphire grabs Ruby's hand to help her escape from the bloodthirsty mob bent on murdering queer people.
They get to know each other and fall in love exploring the messy, complicated planet of Earth together.
Tons of cute things happen. I mean, besides the adorableness I've already listed. Ruby carries Sapphire to a cave for shelter. They hold hands. They watch the stars sprawled out on the grass together. They dance in the moonlight.
And why not, when no one was watching?
OMG, I'm dying here. This book is so amazing.
Sugar isn't putting mouth kissing in here, but she isn't fucking around either. SHE'S NOT FUCKING AROUND.
ANYWAY. That's my two cents. I have an overwhelming urge to start randomly buying this and handing it out. LOL
Tl;dr - LESBIAN FICTION FOR CHILDREN. So important. The future is now. Triumph not only for queer people, but for all of humanity.
Also recommended: Sailor Moon, Japanese version. Teach your child to love and appreciate subtitles, LOL. Older audience for the Bishoujo Senshi, obvio.
I'm one of those embarrassingly huge fans of this show so it was kind of a given that I was going to love this book. But let me tell y'all why it's good and why it's important.
This is Ruby and Sapphire's story of love and freedom. I think we all know that a children's storybook that's about a "she" falling in love with a "she" is bound to get some raised eyebrows in a world that thinks relationships like theirs can never be innocent, but I would prefer not to focus on that much at all. I just want to say that it's so vital that children see these relationships in the same context that they see cross-sex relationships--and it's not JUST so kids who have same-sex crushes and attractions can see themselves and know they can get fairy tale endings too. It's also for the rest of you--and if those of you who aren't queer can imagine growing up with no books about people like you, you might start to get the idea.
But you might not be able to really understand, because you probably CAN'T imagine how devastating it is--when there don't seem to be nice words that describe you, or when futures for people like you don't seem to exist, or when you want to know where you are in the literature people get upset, or when people talk to you like it either doesn't matter that you're invisible or that you're disgusting for wanting that. We want to be in stories because stories are how humanity talks to itself. If we aren't in them, we also learn very young that we don't truly get to participate in human life.
So I want to say thank you to everyone who made it possible for something like this to exist. I'm so happy, but also relieved--and a little exasperated that something this sweet and pure took this long to get here because some people look at it and don't see it for what it it is.
So what is it?
Yes, this story features the beginning of the love between Ruby and Sapphire, though it still doesn't really delve into that. We see very little of their time together. We see them both being sort of in awe of each other--Ruby being amazed that Sapphire would want to be around someone like her when she's an aristocrat and has amazing powers to see beyond time, and Sapphire being amazed that Ruby's courage upended what she thought was inevitable--and we get a peek at the way they look at each other.
What we do see more of is their decision to become a Fusion together--the ability the Gem characters have to meld into each other and become another person who represents their relationship. (But also the new Gem will have her own thoughts and feelings, her own new appearance, and her own attitude built from what her component Gems inspire in each other.) In Sapphire and Ruby's story, I think the Fusion relationship is a unique one--not just because she was the first of her kind in her society, but because the relationship between Ruby and Sapphire is now forever changed by how they feel about becoming another entity together. They will eventually fully love each other, but that love will always be influenced by what they've experienced as a Fusion.
And everything about their relationship is about possibility, opportunity, novelty, freshness, and power. Rubies in Gem society are supposed to be simple soldiers who do what they're told and fight with their comrades. Sapphires in Gem society are supposed to be wise seers who don't let their emotions affect what happens next. When Ruby made a choice that Rubies aren't supposed to make, Sapphire helplessly watched a future develop that wasn't in the plan. And both of them found what they'd rather be instead. I really appreciate that there was such a strong "supposed to" that the characters challenged without quite meaning to, and that leaving what they were accustomed to did cause them some distress. They had to find something new to be now that Ruby couldn't do what Rubies do and Sapphire couldn't do what Sapphires do. They realized there are multiple "supposed to's" for Gems like them, and fusing together into someone who had no "supposed to's" (because she wasn't supposed to exist) must have made it so much more joyous to explore what lay ahead.
The art is pretty special--lots of unsettling images (though nothing too scary), lots of beautiful images, and a different style from the cartoon--it's simplified and stylized, but it still gets plenty of emotion onto those little faces. The backgrounds are lovely as they generally are in the show, and the characters commenting on the text in a meta fashion and talking to each other from little alcoves (Sapphire above, Ruby below) was really powerful. There's narration, but there's also Sapphire and Ruby saying how they felt about what was happening, and expressing opinions about each other's statements and caring about each other's distress. Eventually, they go into each other's chambers, comment on how they feel, and share their perspectives. It seems simple but it's quite a nuanced metaphor and I think a lot of children will understand it despite the complexity.
Speaking of complexity, there are some concepts here that I think render this book most appropriate for people who have context from watching the TV show. The fusion concept isn't presented all that accessibly to new fans, and if you haven't seen the show before you don't know that when Gems' physical form is destroyed, they reform later (if their Gem isn't smashed). You don't get introduced to Pearl even though she's there, and you have no context for the illustration of Blue Diamond (and her Pearl), and even though Garnet is mentioned in the online description of the book, she's not called by name in the story itself (just like in the episode). It's also a little unclear in the book (but not the cartoon) why the other Gems were furious at them for fusing, but I guess the story had to be kept simple. There's also some complex language in the book--vocabulary words children in the target group probably won't see in school for a few more years--but the presentation makes me think they will have context to pick it up. I remember doing that a lot as a kid with children's books that slipped in an advanced word here and there.
I was hoping for a couple things I didn't get, but I don't blame books for not fulfilling expectations they didn't promise to fulfill. I was really hoping to hear a little more about the moment of Sapphire and Ruby's first fusion, because in the show fusion is supposed to be about being on the same wavelength, and it seemed almost incongruous that they could have fused at that moment amidst all that confusion. If they did, they must have temporarily wanted the same thing. I know what Ruby wanted--to save Sapphire--but I would have loved to see a glimpse of Sapphire wanting to be saved rather than just being sort of blindsided by the rescue. I would have been really interested to see more of that moment of escape into their unheard-of spontaneous relationship--the action that changed who they were figuratively and literally (not to mention saving the planet).
The overall package is really precious and looks the way it should--like an age-appropriate, fairy-tale-esque storybook that doesn't have anything strange or inappropriate at all. I can't even imagine reading this to a child and having them stop me to ask "wait, ARE THEY TWO GIRLS??" because it's just so smooth and well told, and the characters' casually presented embraces and nonchalant closeness uses the same cues we'd expect to see on a Disney princess dancing with her prince. It's just Not. An. Issue. Not in the book. Outside of the book, I imagine it will be. I hope the hubbub it creates is primarily positive.
And now, of course, it's made even more clear in this book that Garnet doesn't ask questions in the show because Rose told her not to and she took it quite literally. (She seems to get around asking questions with tricky wording, though, like instead of "What did you see?" she'll say "Tell me what you saw.") If you already ARE the answer, what questions could you need to ask?
And I've got to say Rebecca Sugar dedicating the book to Ian Jones-Quartey is really sweet.
My neighbor recently got this book as a present (she just turned six, she's trans, she loves cute romantic stuff, she loves Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems). She brought it to my place several days in a row for me to read to her. It's one of her favorites at the moment (that and Mummy Cat, which I took out of the library.) If I had read it on my own, maybe I wouldn't give it quite so many stars, but then again, why not? It's a wonderful queer love story for kids -- about questioning dominant narratives, appreciating Nature, being okay with uncertainty, and taking risks for the sake of intimacy.
Lena's dad pointed out that it could have used another round of editing, and that's probably true. And it's a lot like an episode of the show (which it is based on), and I always feel a little, I don't know, distracted? reading things in picture books that are also similarly represented on shows. I find myself comparing them and not able to fully separate them out. In any case, Lena loves it, she loves the way the main story is happening and the characters are meanwhile also having a separate narrative sort of (on the top and bottom of the page. If you read it, you'll see.) And I think it's great that it exists.
Here is an article by Rebecca Sugar, the writer, on writing LGBT love stories for kids. Haven't read it yet, but I will check it out soon.
I'm biased because this is one of my favorite shows ever and Ruby and Sapphire are the absolute CUTEST but this is one of the best children's books out there. That's all I have to say. I'm glad I bought it. I'm going to keep it and read it to my own child someday :)
I'm going to preface this by saying, though you will get more out of this if you've watched the show, you can definitely appreciate this without having watched it.
This book presents beautiful artwork portraying the love story between these two otherworldly characters. There's action, suspense, self-discovery, and love, all in a relatively short children's book.
My wife and I love watching Steven Universe with our daughter, and love reading this book to her even more. It's difficult to find children's books about homosexual couples, let alone children's TV shows, so we bought this book full price as soon as it came out (a rare thing for us bargain hunter-types!). My daughter soaks in the amazing artwork as we tell her the story, and she smiles at the couple that looks like a fantasy version of her mama and mommy.
There is also a twist on how the story is told... but that's something you'll have to see for yourself. Let's just say they really "thought outside the box" on this one.
A family read-aloud binge of picture books for my daughter's 21st birthday!
A favorite episode from the TV series gets a beautiful adaptation with a meta twist. Ruby and Sapphire serve as narrator and commentator for this origin story of Garnet and find it difficult to not be affected by the tale unfolding before them. Very cute!
My girlfriend and i love steven univerae so much that we accidently bought each other this book for Christmas, so now we have two copies and I'm not even mad about it. This is an amazing, heartfelt, beautiful story about love that anyone from any age group will enjoy. I already plan on getting a copy for my 9 year old brother who we introduced to the Steven Universe show last year (his favourite character is Pearl btw), and I want every single one of my lgbtq friends to read this book. Representation is important, showing kids and adults what a different kind of love can look like is important, and this book is so important to me. Thank you Rebecca Sugar for writing this amazing story.
Just as I'd always suspected, it turns out that Steven Universe is amazing as soon as you excise that irritating prick of a title character. A picture book about love across the barricades while prehistoric Earth is being invaded by sentient gems, this is gorgeous, formally clever without being alienating, and as queer as the day is long.
Cute allegorical story for a same-sex relationship between two female "gems" from the Steven's Universe universe. I'm not hugely familiar with the property but the story was enjoyable and resembled a fable or a modern fairy tale. It has a clever meta element to it as well that I'm sure kids will find amusing.
Simply gorgeous - the illustrations are perfect, the story is illuminating, and my heart is in pieces. Every parent should read this to their child, and everyone else should just read it! Trust me, you'll have no regrets...
This cute little picture book ties in to the Steven Universe episode "The Answer" which reveals the backstory behind Garnets fusion of Sapphire and Ruby. The illustrations have a whimsical bright colour to them and a texture that looks like pastels. Very visually appealing.
One of the only drawbacks to this is the story is really really really simplistic. I hate to give any criticism to Steven Universe because it's truly such an inclusive, diverse and heartwarming series but the story here was SO SHORT and nothing new. If you've already seen the episode (pure MAGIC! Watch it! Now!) you already know everything Rebecca Sugar has written here. It would've been spifftastic if Rebecca expanded the story a bit here and gave us some novel material.
Regardless of that, it's a sweet read! And I'm sure fans of Garnet, and the Ruby x Sapphire fusion story will like this. It'd also be a lovely read for young children to get them into the fandom and expose them to a more diverse meaning of what love is --and how it can be between two women-- in a way that isn't too syrupy. :)
We need more books (and stories, and everything in general) like this/Steven Universe for kids. And for me. I think I’m biased having just watched the show, but I don’t really care, reading about Ruby and Sapphire / Garnet felt wonderful. Beautiful art and beautiful messages. I also have proof of an actual seven-year-old loving it as much as I do. So needless to say, it’s a five from both me and the kid - - >
Neo: Saaks Sallan kirjalle antaa tähtiä? minä: Joooo. Neo: Viisi.
Five stars for Garnet feels. This book was adorable and I love the fact that it exists at all. Even though, having seen the episode a million times, this didn't offer me anything new per se, the art was beautiful and I loved the little meta story happening in the margins. Love love love.
Confession: most of the tv-shows I watch are cartoons. I get as much of a kick from funny animated characters as I do when Sherlock makes a brilliant deduction. Last year I discovered Steven Universe and it's honestly the best thing I've watched in 2016. To me it transcends being a kid's show. It's not just the first show created by a woman on Cartoon Network, it's also a wonderfully diverse story that breaks down stereotypes. In the end Steven Universe teaches anyone that watches that you don't have to be what others expect of you. The molds and stigmas don't apply. The main character is one of the cutest characters and a boy that wears pink all the time. It must also be one of the first cartoons that made no doubt about characters not being straight. The message of breaking stereotypes shows in all the episodes, but one in particulair.
Now that episode has been made into a picture book. There's new art by two incredible artist and the story isn't made up of dialogue, but it's fiction. It's got Sugar's own creative style all over it. Just like her show, her writing is not conventional. I called this book a picturebook, but it's sort of inbetween that and a graphic novel. The story however is the same in the episode. And what a beautiful tribute to the show this is. There's not a lot of pages and while I miss there had been more, it's a nice book to allow yourself a little breather.
I wouldn't say the story is missing something without all the dialogue, animation and music. It still stands and remains interesting. However it was more suitable for, and enjoyable in, the tv-show. The pages of the book feel a little cluttered. On some of them there's a lot of text, so it has to be written in a font that's easy to read. This is a good decision, but it's not as aesthetically pleasing. The font is probably Times New Roman, which is really overused. The drawings themselves are beautiful, but don't get enough space to shine. Only in a few occasions they take up the whole page. This is due to the characters Ruby and Sapphire taking up the top and bottom part with their commentary on the story. I've never liked it when manga's did that and I don't like it here either. This book reads like those version of movies where the actors comment on what happens. It's unnecessary and takes you out of the story. Sapphire even tells you there's only 5 more pages to go, which it wasn't, but it does highlight the fact that this is a very short book.
The Answer is a tribute to a wonderful episode. I wanted it to feel more like its own product and not just a little extra. While I enjoyed it and the story remains wonderful, I did expect more. I wish they spend more time on making it feel complete, like a fusion. I like the story and I like the drawings, but spending more time on choosing the font and placing the drawings would have made it better in my opinion. Having said that I hope the message of the story is as clear as it is in the show: you can be whatever you choose.
This charming fairy tale is the story of Ruby and Sapphire and how they fell in love. Sapphire and Ruby were part of an alien race that came to conquer the planet 6,000 years ago, but when a rebel Gem thought Earth shouldn't be conquered, Homeworld sent the future-seeing Sapphire to find out how this story would end. But because of the impulsive gesture of one of her Ruby guards, the rebels were not defeated as Sapphire had foreseen--and both of them ended up stranded on Earth after defying their leaders! In this new world, with no path laid ahead of them and no understanding of how they should fit into it, Ruby and Sapphire escape into a third option: a mysterious Gem ability called fusion. Together, they make a new Gem with a new identity and a new outlook, and from then on, they celebrate the love that keeps them together.
I already knew from interviews and previews that this book was going to be lovely, and that it was going to serve a purpose beyond just being cute: It reads and looks the way many fairy tales do (though the imagery is a little unusual and the fact that they're space aliens instead of princesses does make it a little unconventional), but the main characters who fall in love are both "she." And though their society objects to their choices, it's not because of their gender. Furthermore, they receive acceptance from a new group that sees what they are as beautiful, and they get to be together--with their love upheld as the simplest, truest answer in the world.
It's simplistic, like fairy tales should be, but it uses some sophisticated vocabulary along the lines I remember hearing on storybook audiotapes as a child, and it doesn't underestimate the children who might be reading. And it's sort of got a second story in the top and the bottom; the story is told in the middle of the page, but Sapphire's hanging out in a partition in the top of the page, while Ruby's got one at the bottom. They're both commenting on the action, letting you in on their thoughts, and reacting to each other tenderly. Sapphire's surprise that they can change what was "supposed" to happen was neat, and some of the lines give a little more depth to what happened in the cartoon episode this book was based on. The art is properly whimsical and the mood is cast well by really creative color choices. The character designs in some places are honestly a little odd, but I don't think kids will dislike it.
I had a great time reading it and I think other fans will too.
This book is a sweet story about love and defying societal expectations, told through pretty words and prettier pictures. Steven Universe fans will already know the story, but this book still gives some extra insight into the characters' thought processes. I also adore that the story is told in standard 3rd person format, then also features commentary from Ruby/Sapphire/Garnet on each page...
I don't know the Steven Universe show at all, but I *think* this might be a same-sex love story in a picture book?! It can be read as a colorful adventure story, which it is, but there are all sorts of metaphors for having no words to describe yourself and having to break the rules just to avoid persecution. And a happy ending. "You already are the answer." <3 <3 <3 Also, I'm sure there is a language-arts lesson in the sidebar story breaking into the ongoing story.
It's basically just the episode in book form but with a commentary from Ruby and Sapphire but the illustrations are beautiful and it was a great episode with a strong message about love (spoilers?). it's definitely more ment for kids so if your not just buying it for the illustrations you might not get much out of it but if you have kids or nephew/niece or godchild or whatever i think they'd probably like it and it has a good message.