Elliot written by Julie Pearson and illustrated by Manon Gauthier is a picture book about a little rabbit named Elliot whose family does not know quite how to take care of him. Although they try on their own, they need some outside help and a social worker comes to help educate them while bringing Elliot to stay with a different family.
Generally when I think of stories that talk of foster care or other situations that can be difficult to explain to children I think of those horrifying, cheesy picture books that can usually be found in the parenting section of the library, but Elliot is just a gentle and heartwarming storybook that happens to deal with the foster care system and adoption. The muted colours of the collage illustrations match the tone of the book and support the story well. The text manages to tell of a difficult situation without being down, depressing or preachy, kudos to Julie Pearson for managing that!
While Elliot would be a nice addition to any bookshelf, this would be a beautiful book to give to a child who is entering the foster care system or who is moving towards having their adoption finalized.
When I picked up Jacob’s New Dress at the library and started to read it, I teared up. I thought of all the kids I’ve taught in child care over the years who have been teased for using the “girl clothes” in the dress up centre, all the parents who have been angry when they’ve come to pick up their son and found them in a dress, or the parents who have told me that their child may only wear the dress up clothes that matches their child’s sex. The amount of parents who get upset over this boggles my mind.
Jacob’s New Dress is about a little boy who wants to wear a dress to school. He goes through a few different options like dress up clothes and creating his own “dress-thing” while trying to get his family and peers on board. I loved that his friend Sarah and his teacher was on board with him wearing a dress and were supportive of him from the start. I really loved that his parents were a bit hesitant at the beginning, but were loving and interested in supporting their child. It feels more realistic to what children who are gender non-conforming might face at the start of sharing this with their families.
I truly feel that this book should be in child care centres and classrooms everywhere, regardless of whether that class has a gender non-conforming child in it. By showing children these ideas early on it can teach them empathy and help them to be more supportive of their friends, and to be less confused if they find that they are not interested in the things that they “should” be interested in.
The authors, Sarah and Ian Hoffman, have first hand experience with gender non-conforming children and write at www.sarahandianhoffman.com.