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When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community
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When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  15 reviews
This is a picture book biography about Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, one of San Francisco's most well-known and politically active lesbian couples. In this story, Phyllis and Del point out landmarks through the city that can be seen out their window. The "Reader's Note" describes how Phyllis and Del left their mark on each of these sites. This is a unique way to introduce c ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published June 5th 2017 by Magination Press
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3.55  · 
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 ·  49 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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I was disappointed that despite the subtitle, this book doesn't say anything about HOW Phyllis and Del built this community. (Instead the book just illustrates what they saw out their window when they first moved in together and what they see now.) Each place that's pointed out in the book has an explanatory gloss in the Note at the back, which I appreciated, but I wished it had been included in the actual narrative.

Also, it's not actually explicit in the text (or especially clear in the illust
Ben Truong
When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community is a children's picture book written by Gayle E. Pitman and illustrated by Christopher Lyles. It compares and contrasts the world through the eyes of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin – a lesbian couple in San Francisco.

June, at least in my part of the world is LGBT Pride Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that t
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A refreshing picture book biography of two prominent active lesbians, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin. Looking out their window, they see how San Francisco has changed over the years since they first stepped in the city. A Reader's Note gives additional information why these places are significant and how Lyon and Martin contributed to LGBTQ- and particularly lesbian- activism. Great backmatter material also showcases why reading about LGBTQ history is important.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gayle Pitman is one of few authors who can do both— represent queer community accurately and write good books for children. More please.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love this book as a concept but think it underperforms as a historical book or biography, because all the explaining is in the end matter. It still works as a picture book, showing different buildings and places outside their window that reflect the community Lyon and Martin helped found and build. However, the text of the book itself isn't "how they built a community" but rather "here's the community they built." The tone is gentle and celebratory and uplifting.

If you're a San Francisco perso
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This picture book is supposedly about Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, two prominent lesbian activists who were a couple. However, it gives very little concrete information about them. The main text doesn't even mention their names once. Instead, it gives a very vague overview of how their community changed to be more inclusive without mentioning what specifically they did. I did not learn details until reading the reading guide in the back. That being said, it is a nice book about inclusion and com ...more
Danni Green
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: q4p
It was hard to tell what this book was trying to say. It felt like there was too much missing from the story to really know what the story was, I didn't feel like I actually learned very much about these important historical figures or what they did.

UPDATE: Reread this with my best friend to see if ze'd experience it similarly or differently from how I did. Ze had the same reaction as I did.
Difficult to read, certainly requires a grown up companion who has read the Reading guide carefully. Then again, can also be read as just another picture book with pretty illustrations and makes for a great game of spot the rainbow as well.
Denise Lauron
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a quick read with a lot of San Francisco history told in drawings and words for children. The pages that follow the story explain everything to the adults, so that they can help talk about the changes that happened in the city over the years.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story tells reality without directly saying what it is talking about. Allusions exist in the text and illustrations, but discussing the true meaning would be critical for children to understand the book.
Sharlene Robertson
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I was really hoping for more, for at least real pictures of them in the back. It was choppy and didn’t make sense till you read the back of the book.
Leslie Basky
This book just hints as to what the problem was, but does depict different relationships in the community, and the unwelcome feelings that these women felt.
Jessica Jeffers
rated it it was amazing
Dec 18, 2018
Mills College Library
Picture P685w 2017
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Gayle E. Pitman, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology at Sacramento City College. Her writing, research, and teaching focuses on issues of gender and sexual orientation. She lives in Northern California.