What Makes a Baby

Silverberg, Cory (Author) and Fiona Smyth (Illustrator). What Makes a Baby. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012.

A brightly-colored illustration of various families walking in a park. Text reads: "Who was happy that it was YOU who grew?"

With the tagline “A book for every kind of family and every kind of kid,” What Makes a Baby is indeed the most inclusive children’s book about reproduction that I’ve ever read. Intended to be read by grownups to children, this book provides an age-appropriate approach to basic details about reproduction and plenty of opportunities for personal sharing about a child’s own story. Continue reading

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What Night Brings

Trujillo, Carla. What Night Brings. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 2003.

A girl laying in a four-poster bed with an orange blanket, floating in a large body of water.

Every night, Marci Cruz prays to God and Baby Jesus to turn her into a boy, and every morning she checks to see if they granted her wish. She doesn’t actually feel like a boy, though:

It’s because I like girls. I don’t know how or when it happened. Maybe I was born this way, but the second I saw chiches, I wanted them. I couldn’t stop thinking of girls, during the day at school, at night in my dreams, and especially when I watched TV. Now I know you can’t be with a girl if you are a girl. So that’s why I have to change into a boy. (9)

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Stranger

Brown, Rachel Manija, and Sherwood Smith. Stranger. New York: Viking, 2014.

A person walking toward an open gate with light streaming out of it.

Stranger is genre-crossing, told from five separate points of view, and written in collaboration by two writers, but there’s nothing rambling or uneven about it. In fact, the excellent writing and fascinating plot kept me turning pages and holding my breath.

In a post apocalyptic world, a mutation caused curious changes in the ecosystem, giving squirrels telekinetic abilities and creating crystalline trees that kill people with their shards. Some humans changed, too. In the town of Las Anclas, the sheriff has superhuman strength and the doctor can alter time to heal patients faster. Continue reading

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The You I’ve Never Known

Hopkins, Ellen. The You I’ve Never Known. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017.

Close-up of a light-skinned young woman's face, with a fuzzy grid overlay.

Ariel and her father have been on the move since her mother left when she was two years old, never staying long in one place. Now, at seventeen, they have finally settled in a town where Ariel can make friends and go to school. She’s flourishing with academics and sports and cautiously exploring first love with her best friend Monica. Continue reading

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The Telling

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Telling. New York: Harcourt, 2000.

Book cover with a group of people in a cave, backlit with a bright light.

Sutty, an (Anglo-Indian and lesbian) ethnographer representing a peaceful interstellar confederation, travels to Aka to initiate diplomatic relations. Continue reading

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This is How it Always Is

Frankel, Laurie. This is How it Always Is. New York: Flatiron Books, 2017.

Book cover with title "This is How it Always Is" and author "Laurie Frankel" in large text over a curled orange peel.

Emergency room doctor Rosie and novelist Penn live a busy, happy life with their five rambunctious sons in Wisconsin. When their youngest, Claude, puts on a dress and doesn’t want to take it off, the family takes it in stride, encouraging his imaginative play and supporting his right to be who he is. But just before Claude starts kindergarten, he announces that he wants to wear dresses and bring a purse to school. He isn’t a boy after all; he wants to be a girl when he grows up. Continue reading

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We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Greenidge, Kaitlyn. 2016. We Love You, Charlie Freeman. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.

The title text and author name in large letters across a background of green branches or vines.

This remarkable novel weaves together two narratives separated by 60 years, deftly illustrating the impact of racial bias on science and on Black families in America. Continue reading

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