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Sparkle Boy Hardcover – June 15, 2017
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—When older sister Jessie shows off her shimmery accessories, little brother Casey wants them, too, even if Jessie disapproves of sparkles on boys. In three repetitive vignettes featuring the siblings, Jessie appeals in turn to their mom, dad, and Abuelita to back up her claim that boys can't have what she has. In each case, the adult hesitates but ultimately affirms that Casey may wear a skirt, nail polish, and a bracelet if he likes. This delights Casey while making his sister increasingly grumpy. In the fourth and final tale, other children at the library misgender Casey and say that "everyone will laugh at" his clothes. Of course, in the grand tradition of older siblings everywhere, Jessie decides that no one else is permitted to tease or judge her younger brother, and she paints Casey's nails herself when they return home. Mola's winsome pencil and digital illustrations have a style that combines John Parra and Mary Blair. Though somewhat on the wordy side, this slice-of-life story will appeal to families, whether or not they include gender-creative members. VERDICT A cheerful addition for libraries that need more titles like Cheryl Kilodavis's My Princess Boy and Sarah Hoffman's Jacob's New Dress.—Sarah Stone, San Francisco Public Library
About the Author
LESLEA NEWMAN is the author of seventy books for readers of all ages. She has received
many literary accolades, including poetry fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and has served as Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, from 2008 to 2010. In addition to creating her own books, Newman teaches writing for children and young adults at Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing program. She wrote this book to celebrate all the "sparkle boys" she knows. Newman lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her spouse, Mary Vazquez.
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Unfortunately, this book only emphasizes that it is a weird thing for boys to like those things. And while the boys family, and eventually his sister, eventually accept him and his love of sparkles, no less than 6-7 times does this book say “boys don’t wear _____” or “youcant wear that, you’re a boy!” It’s an idea that I don’t even want to introduce to my sparkle loving boy.
The boy even runs into other boys as the library who make fun of him. He almost cries. His sister sticks up for him and accepts him then, but it still makes a bigger deal than necessary about how others will think about you if you’re a boy who likes sparkles.
In this day an age I’d rather just find a book about a sparkle boy who isn’t ridiculed for his choices, even if he’s accepted in the end.
After reading Leslea Newman's newest children's book I was left with that one word. It rambled around in my brain as if it was sitting in a comfy chair exhaling in awe.
Leslea Newman has a way of meeting children where they are and gently reaching for their hearts to bring them to a better place of understanding. Though titled Sparkle Boy, the story is about everyone around him too. Especially his sister who is transformed because love is bigger. Understanding and acceptance are quickly followed when lead by the heart.
Read it to your children, grandchildren and your students. We need books like this; now and always.