2021 Rainbow Book List

After a slight delay due to a longer-than-usual list, the 2021 Rainbow Book List is finally here! Congratulations to the books that made the listand their creators, of course.

According to the list’s introduction, this year’s committee evaluated close to 600 eligible titles and selected a total of 129 titles. If that doesn’t seem like a lot to you, consider that when I served on the 2018 Rainbow Book List Committee we evaluated over 260 titles and selected 48.

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2021 Youth Media Awards Debrief

Congratulations to the 2021 Stonewall Book Award winner and honors! And congratulations, too, to Medal on My Mind co-founders Kazia and Dani for serving on the Real Committee this year. We’re so proud of them! We’re also excited for Dani to continue to serve next year as the 2022 Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award committee chair.

Winner: We Are Little Feminists: Families written by Archaa Shrivastav & designed by Lindsey Blakely

Honors: Beetle & The Hollowbones by Aliza Layne, Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram, Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

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Picture Book Roundup, Part 2

This is Part 2 of our spotlight on Stonewall-eligible picture books with queer content. Unlike those mentioned in Part 1, most of the books I’ve selected here break the gender binary (wahoo!). I also threw in two picture books that are unique in their portrayal of same-sex attraction in young children because it’s something I haven’t really seen before.

The number of queer picture books for children is growing each year. I had hoped to cover them all but have since learned that there are even more titles than the 15 we counted before—three cheers for that!! Having too many books to cover is a good thing, right? (On that note, check out Mombian’s fabulous end-of-year-list and other posts if you want even more recommendations.)

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay

darius the great is not okayDarius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Dial Books, August 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Plot Summary: “Fractional Persian” Darius knows Klingon better than Farsi. This bodes well for Darius and his white father: their mutual love for all things Star Trek is one of the few things they have in common besides their chronic depression. But when Darius and his family go to Iran to visit his mother’s ailing father, Darius’ unfamiliarity with his Persian heritage leaves him feeling like even more of an outcast than he does at home in Portland, Oregon. As Darius struggles with his sense of self, a Bahá’í teen named Sohrab shows Darius what acceptance can feel like. The two boys strike up a powerful friendship. But can it stand the test of long distance when Darius returns home to America?

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Picture Book Roundup, Part 1

In the eight years the Stonewall has been given to children’s and YA literature, only one picture book has ever won the medal: This Day in June (2015). Two picture books have been honored: 10,000 Dresses (2010) and Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress (2015). This is partly due to the relative scarcity of picture books with queer content but I’m happy to report that there are so many titles this season—15 by our count—that we will have two posts!  

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Picture Us In the Light

Picture Us in the LightPicture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Disney-Hyperion, April 2018
Reviewed from ARC

Plot Summary: Acceptance letter and scholarship in tow, Danny Cheng is well on his way to RISD and a bright future as an artist. But as senior year approaches its end, the idea of leaving pulls Danny’s mind back to Cupertino, his friends, and his family. When Danny discovers a box of letters in his father’s closet, long-kept family secrets begin to unravel. The more Danny learns, the more his world begins to fall apart. Meanwhile, Danny’s own secret—his feelings for his best friend, Harry—begins to float to the surface. Can Danny bring himself tell Harry even though Harry’s madly in love with Regina?

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Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World

ivy aberdeenIvy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Little, Brown BFYR, March 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Plot Summary: A tornado interrupts twelve-year-old Ivy’s world, destroying her family’s home. Displaced by the disaster and disconnected from her family, Ivy begins to feel isolated. Meanwhile, Ivy also loses her secret journal—her “portable, papery hope chest” (2)—in which she has drawn pictures that no one else has seen. Pictures of herself and another girl holding hands. Along with notes urging Ivy to talk to someone, Ivy’s treasured drawings begin to resurface page-by-page in her locker.  Ivy writes back, wondering if (read: hoping that) this pen-pal is the girl from her drawings.
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Pride / Sewing the Rainbow


Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, illus. Steven Salerno
Random House, April 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Sewing the Rainbow: The Story of Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag
by Gayle E. Pitman, illus. Holly Clifton-Brown

Magination Press, June 2018
Reviewed from hardcover

Plot Summary: On this 40th anniversary of the rainbow flag’s creation we get not one but TWO delightful, groundbreaking picture books about the symbol. In Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, the story focuses on the rise and death of activist Harvey Milk. Direct quotes from Milk are interspersed throughout a historical survey of events that ranges from the flag’s 1978 debut to 2015’s rainbow-lit White House celebrating marriage equality. In Sewing the Rainbow: The Story of Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag, the artist Gilbert Baker gets his due as the flag’s mastermind. Readers learn less about the LGBTQIA+ movement and more about the artist himself—in “colorful, sparkly, glittery” detail no less!

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The Cardboard Kingdom

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sellcardboardkingdom
Alfred A. Knopf BFYR, June 2018

Reviewed from ARC

Plot Summary: In this middle grade graphic novel, a group of diverse children use their imaginations and lots and LOTS of cardboard to create and inhabit a pretend world in their neighborhood. The kids’ stories aren’t all fun and games (for instance, the book tackles subjects like divorce and bullying). But, in their Cardboard Kingdom, the kids regain some control over their lives—and are free to be whatever they please.

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