Posts Tagged: friendship

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship

Introducing Teddy book cover art

There are very few books, specifically picture books, that explain transgender people to young children. There are even fewer that do so delicately and skillfully. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton boldly takes the reins to explain transgender people to younger audiences in an easy-to-understand and age appropriate manner. The illustrations, by Dougal MacPherson, add tremendous depth to the story. We see the anguish on Tilly the Teddy Bear’s face as she struggles to tell her best friend that she is not a boy teddy, but a girl teddy. The anxiety and sadness are palpable on Tilly’s face and any reader of any age can see the importance of this decision and its impact on her life. The illustrations translate to real life as countless youth make the difficult decision to come out every day.

Children are incredibly perceptive, and they will immediately pick up upon the acceptance and friendship that Errol extends to his teddy bear. His compassion is shown in both the text and the illustrations. Errol is mindful of how his friend is feeling and comes out in full support of Tilly’s true identity. Introducing Teddy teaches children how to empathize and the importance of being there for your friends. These lessons in kindness and consideration are incredibly important, especially as the world continues to grow more diverse.

-Devi


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My Friend Isabelle

My Friend Isabelle book cover art

I had a blast reading this book. It reminded me so much of my best friend and I, very different from each other and still the best of friends. For example, I am an ambivert with high energy most of the time while she is an introvert who likes to spend her free time catching up on her shows. She likes environmental sciences while I’m more geared towards exercise sciences. She is vegan while I eat meats almost daily. Yet we still go to church as many Sundays as we can. The hours we spend together feel like minutes filled with laughs and inside jokes. We share the same core beliefs and even apart, I know that we could never truly be separated.

This book is about a friendship such as ours. Isabelle is slow, Charlie is fast. Isabelle is short, Charlie is tall. They still spend time together and have lots of fun playing, going to the park, and eating delicious snacks. The book is wonderfully illustrated with just a sentence or two on each page. It highlights the many differences between the two kids just to show how the same things that should keep them apart is actually what brings them together. Charlie even says himself that “the world is more fun with friends like Isabelle.” I teared up at the end because not only was this a familiar feeling, but I was able to understand from the author’s simple words that Isabelle was not quite like the other kids. Sure enough but not directly mentioned by the author, I was able to piece together that Isabelle has Down syndrome. My favorite part about this book is how it showcased children’s unconditional love; their innocence and general acceptance of things and people that are different from them. This is a great book to educate young kids about differences between people, how they can learn from each other, and accept each other no matter what.

-Sybile


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The Junkyard Wonders

The Junkyard Wonders book cover art

This book was incredibly fun to read. Not only were the illustrations interesting, but the story as well. It is the story of a dyslexic young girl who moves to Michigan to live with her dad for a year. When she gets to the new place, she’s hoping that she’s left the difficult part of her life behind but unfortunately, due to her disability, she still finds herself singled out and placed in “special” classes. However, this is where the story gets better instead of worse. The class that she is made to join is nicknamed the “Junkyard Wonders” and it is a collection of kids who don’t quite fit in with the others. Mrs. Peterson, the teacher, explains to them what a junkyard really is. “It is a place of wonderful possibilities! What some see as bent and broken throwaways are actually amazing things waiting to be made into something new. Something unexpected. Something surprising.” The very first day of class Mrs. Peterson reads the definition of genius that she had written on the board. She told them: “Read it, memorize it, genius describes each and every one of you.” Mrs. Peterson turned out to be one of those teachers who eventually leaves a lasting impact in your life. Everyone in the little group that Patricia is assigned to grows up to be amazing people with extraordinary lives. The boy who loved ballet grew up to be the artistic director of the American Ballet Theater Company, the girl who didn’t talk became a fashion designer, and the boy who liked to build things became an aeronautical engineer for NASA. If it wasn’t for the other kids in school, the kids in the Junkyard that they rudely called weirdos and retards would have lived to be pariahs and society rejects, but because of a caring and dedicated teacher they became much more than that. Mrs. Peterson went as far as bringing them to an actual junkyard and telling them to go ahead and find something to make beautiful and the kids did just that. The Vanilla group, which is the one that Patricia sniffed her way into, found everything they needed to make an airplane. Then one of the kids, Gibbie, said something about the airplane that stuck with me, “This baby is goin’ all the way to the moon!” Years later, as an engineer for NASA, Gibbie put the airplane that he made with his friends from the Junkyard Wonders on an aircraft which, you guessed it, found its way to the moon.

-Sybile


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