Great stories for K-4th grade that also feature gender-independent and trans-identified kids.
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When we reach a backing level of $19,200 we'll be able to produce a full-featured, accessible video storybook version of BACKWARDS DAY, complete with voice-description and ASL - available for free/pay-what-you-can download from anywhere in the world. Read more about it here in Update #3, and help me spread the word some more? Let's do everything we can to make these stories available to anyone, anywhere.
Please note: all rewards remain the same. The video storybook is in addition to, not instead of, printed books.
Thank you all so much for your support!
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So, what are these books about?
THE ADVENTURES OF TULIP, BIRTHDAY WISH FAIRY follows title-character Tulip as he deals with the birthday wishes of all the nine-year-olds in North America. Somewhat reminiscent of the Disney film Prep & Landing, THE ADVENTURES OF TULIP, BIRTHDAY WISH FAIRY gives an inside look into what exactly happens to all those wishes, what Wish Fairies eat for lunch, and what kinds of tools they're issued. When a wish Tulip is unfamiliar with crosses his desk, from a child known as David who wishes to live as Daniela, he seeks the wise counsel of the Wish Fairy Captain and learns some new Wish Fairy Skills (while also introducing the concept of trans-identified children in a friendly, sympathetic way). Tulip gets in a little hot water, but ultimately his compassion and thoughtfulness win the day, while serving as a model for readers. This book will be illustrated in a mixed-media style by Toronto-based artist Suzy Malik.
BACKWARDS DAY, set on the planet Tenalp, introduces us to a world where there are seventeen seasons, including one where bubblegum falls from the sky for three days and a single day when everything - everything everywhere - is backwards. Andrea looks eagerly forward to Backwards Day every year, so she can turn into a boy for the day. But one year she doesn't turn along with everyone else. She's miserable. The very next day, however, she turns into a boy - and stays that way! He's delighted, but his parents are distressed, and take him to the big city to consult with Backwardsologists. When they finally figure out what's happened, the miracles of Backwards Day are fully revealed to the reader. Katie Diamond of Portland, ME will be illustrating this book in a charming, modern cartoon style.
Does children's literature really need K-4 books with trans characters?
Kids' ability to see themselves in books available to them is an incredibly valuable thing. Any parent, teacher, librarian, or caregiver will tell you that kids love books that reflect their daily experience. Kids with dogs like it when the kid in the book has a dog; kids with non-nuclear family structures cherish books in which families like theirs are shown.
Knowing this - or instinctively grasping it, as most of us do - makes it easy to see the value of children's books with trans characters to trans or gender-independent kids (or kids with transgender family members). A few recent books have taken this on in earnest, creating narratives about the experience of being gender-nonconforming written in simple children's language. Great!
Because they're also really, really fun.
As a writer and parent, my goal in writing these stories was to create books that would not only open up opportunities to talk about trans issues but also offer great stories - the kind I could imagine my own son asking to have read a second, third, or ::sigh:: fourth time before bed. The stories themselves fold issues of gender in seamlessly, making them great for any kind of kid.
Many parents we know - parents of all genders, orientations, races, religions and cultures - carefully choose books for their children. They choose titles to reflect all the exuberant diversity of the world around them, to teach lessons about character or behavior, to prepare for new experiences or normalize experiences the child is already having, or to encourage and reinforce certain ideas. These include wonderful books about, for example, holidays in other cultures, about flying on a plane or going to the dentist or parents getting divorced, about learning to use the potty or remembering not to bite, and about girls and women being brave and powerful in the world. I also imagine THE ADVENTURES OF TULIP, BIRTHDAY WISH FAIRY and BACKWARDS DAY as entries in this category, wonderful choices for parents who want to expose their children to the width and breadth of other people's lives and experiences in an age-appropriate way.
I'm a decent writer, a trans-identified person, a parent, and a lucky duck who is well-connected with amazing artists and designers (bless you, one and all). Also, I finished some children's books! And I sent them out to some volunteer parents and kids for some test-playing, and they all really liked them. But when I tried to sell them to a publisher...well, read below.
So what's the money for?
Traditional publishers - and honestly, even some non-traditional ones - are reluctant to take on this project that they see as a niche market. "How many trans-identified nine-year-olds can there be?" goes their reasoning. I think these books have a wider appeal, and I'm looking to Kickstarter for help in proving it. If we're funded at $10,000 or more, we'll be able to pay for both books to be printed in high-end, four-colour-process editions - to do justice to the amazing illustrations by Suzy Malik (Tulip) and Katie Diamond (Backwards Day).
Once the (signed!) pre-sold copies are mailed to their new lucky owners, we should have enough books left over keep reprinting as long as sales warrant and perhaps even to pay the the illustrators something! We're also committing to reserve 10% of the remaining copies (after pre-sales are away) for donation to libraries, community centers, and individuals who need them. It's often true that places where there's the least money to spend of tender, trans kids books are the places where they are most needed.
So. Thanks for reading this far! Between you, me, your fellow backers, two amazing artists and the lovely folks at Kickstarter, let's make a little more room in literature for trans kids, shall we? There are great stories, great pictures, and great warm moments to have along the way.
ps - do you think this is an awesome idea, but don't have any kids in your life to send the books to? No problem. We will happily send a copy to the library, LGBT center, or other location of your choice. Or, if you prefer, you can buy one or both books and let us choose where to donate them - we already have quite a list of libraries, teachers, conferences, and community centers who would love a donated copy, and we can send it with a note telling them they have generous you to thank.
Yes, and thanks for asking. Just before the project wraps (and funds, I hope!) we'll send everyone a special PayPal email just for backers that will allow you to order as many extras as you would like and have them shipped with your Kickstarter packages.
Request the reward level that corresponds with the number of books you want. Assuming this project is successful, we'll be able to contact you to ask your your addresses for shipping. When you get that email, let us know wither a) that you want to send your book to some person or place that you specify or b) that we should pick a library, school, or organization and donate on your behalf. If you choose the latter option, we'll tell you where your book went, and stick a bookplate in the donated copy saying that it was donated by you (unless you want to be anonymous, which we will of course respect).