Hello, book enthusiasts! Curious about what’s new in the world of queer children’s literature? This is your go-to spot for the latest updates on queer kidlit releases! Every month this feature will include the latest queer inclusive stories – families of all kinds, breaking down gender stereotypes, and just being yourself, no strings attached.
Get those bookmarks ready, because it’s time to dive in!
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Boys Don’t Fry by Kimberly Lee, Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Jin wishes his family would ask him to help prepare the Lunar New Year feast. But boys, or Babas, never get asked―only Nyonyas, the girls.
It’s the eve of Lunar New Year, and Jin can’t wait for the big family reunion dinner. He loves the aromas and the bubbly chatter coming from the kitchen. His grandmother, Mamah, is cooking up a storm!
As his aunties dice, slice, and chop, there’s nothing Jin wants more than to learn about the history of his family’s cooking and to lend them a helping hand. After all, no one else can tell the difference between ginger and galangal as well as he can! But his aunties shoo him away, claiming he’ll just get bored or be in the way. Luckily, Mamah steps in and asks Jin to help her prepare their special meal. Soon, Jin is squeezing, slicing, and stirring, too!
This loving picture book about a young Malaysian boy who defies gender expectations will make hearts warm and stomachs hungry. With beautifully vibrant illustrations of a traditional nyonya kitchen, Boys Don’t Fry is a heartfelt celebration of family, culture, and traditions―both old and new.
Sir Callie and the Dragon’s Roost by Esme Symes-Smith
The battle is won, but the war is far from over. In this thrilling sequel, a twelve-year-old nonbinary hopeful knight fights for the heart of their kingdom in a magical medieval world filled with dragons, shape-shifters, and witches.
Thanks to Callie and their friends, Helston seems to be changing for the better: Boys are allowed to explore their magic, and girls are permitted to train as warriors. Callie is an official Helston page, Willow in on track to become king, and Elowen and Edwyn are finally safe and free of their father. Everything is…perfect.
Except it isn’t.
Not in Helston, where every step forward is accompanied by a storm of opposition. Even Queen Ewella and Sir Nick are struggling against the wave of fear and anti-magical sentiment growing daily, while the encroaching threat from across the bridge looms.
Callie isn’t foolish; they notice the suspicious glances thrown Neal’s way and hear the doubtful murmurs following Willow. They know what people think about them, too. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance, and when the fragile peace finally shatters, Callie and their friends have no choice but to leave their home and run.
On the other side of the bridge, old secrets are revealed and new allegiances are formed that will throw into question everything Callie thought they knew about their world. Including what it means to be a hero.
Forsooth by Jimmy Matejek-Morris
Thirteen-year-old Calvin knows he’s destined to be a star. . . if he can just stop making embarrassing mistakes onstage, like getting stuck on a single line―”Forsooth!”―during the school play.
The summer after seventh grade, he’s hoping for a fresh start. All he has to do is prove himself as an actor and fix the awkwardness with his friends that started after the play.
But nothing’s going according to plan. His parents don’t get his love of performing. His best friend is moving on without him. And he might have a crush that could change everything.
Surrounded by drama on all sides, Calvin will have to go off script if he’s going to be a real friend and be true to himself.
You Owe Me One, Universe (Thanks a Lot, Universe #2) by Chad Lucas
Brian and Ezra’s story continues in the moving sequel to Thanks a Lot, Universe, which New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone called “a glorious ode to the beauty of preteen friendship.”
Brian knows that anxiety and depression aren’t things that are magically fixed overnight, but he still doesn’t understand why it’s all hitting him so hard right now. Sure, his dad is still in prison and middle school is still stressful, but he’s seeing a therapist, he’s got good friends, and he’s doing really well on the basketball team. He should be fine, so why does he feel too tired to get out of bed some days? And why does he turn into “Cursed Monster Brian” and snap whenever someone asks him what’s wrong?
Ezra is trying his best to look out for Brian, but he’s not sure that he’s actually helping. Sure, they’re still best friends, but as Ezra starts preparing for the talent show, he also starts talking with Victor—the kid who relentlessly bullied Brian last year. It seems like Victor’s changed, and whenever he and Ezra hang out and make music together, Ezra’s stomach feels a little bit swoopy. But even if he likes making music and talking with Victor, he still feels like he’s betraying his best friend whenever they’re together. And he worries that he’s falling for another boy who won’t return his feelings . . .
Earnest, heartfelt, and full of humor, Chad Lucas’s You Owe Me One, Universe explores the nuances and complications of middle school relationships—and shows how sometimes the smallest acts of caring can be the ones that matter most.
Gender Rebels: 30 Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Expansive Heroes Past and Present by Katherine Locke, Illustrated by Shanee Benjamin
This fully illustrated book celebrates the history of thirty trans, gender expansive, and nonbinary heroes throughout the world.
Explore the history of trans and nonbinary people throughout the world in this gorgeously illustrated nonfiction book for young teens. Readers will be educated and enlightened about gender-expansive people who have made a difference in our history and who continue to help raise awareness of diversity and inclusion in current society. Introductory materials give readers an insight into pronoun usage, the history of the word “transgender,” and more before providing engaging and fascinating information about thirty trans, gender expansive, and nonbinary people who have helped shape our world. From Callon of Epidaurus (the first intersex individual to receive surgery) to Elliot Page (a trans actor) to Tomoya Hosoda (the first trans politician in Japan), this book will open up dialogue and help educate young adults on the history, legacy, and future of trans, gender expansive, and nonbinary people and their rights at a time when protecting those rights is needed more than ever. The book is complete with sidebars about trans topics, a reference guide, and a glossary of terminology.
Just Lizzie by Karen Wilfred
In this beautifully written contemporary middle grade debut, an eighth grader’s study of asexuality in science class leads her to understand her own asexual identity as she embarks on a journey toward self-discovery and self-advocacy. For readers of Alex Gino and Ashley Herring Blake.
There’s the part of me that doesn’t understand kissing or cuteness or attraction, and then there’s the part of me that feels so lonely. How do I make sense of those two parts? Maybe I’ll never make sense of them.
What do you do when there’s a question inside you that feels so big, you don’t know how to put words to it? How do you even begin to ask it?
Fourteen-year-old Lizzie is experiencing a lot of change: her family had to move after the incident with their neighbor, leaving behind not only her beloved apple tree, but what feels like her childhood along with it. Lizzie’s brother is too busy for her in his first semester of college and her friends are more interested in dating than dolls. It’s hard not to feel left behind, especially as she tries to explain the fact that she still has zero interest in boys, girls, or the baffling behavior known as “flirting.”
But just as Lizzie’s world feels like it’s closing in, a class lesson on asexual reproduction in plants piques her curiosity, leading her to look up whether people can be asexual too—and suddenly, her world opens up. Lizzie finally finds an identity, a word for all her messy, unnamable feelings that feels like it fits, although she quickly realizes that a label isn’t enough if no one believes it’s real.
Accessible, moving, and compassionate, Just Lizzie effortlessly braids a nuanced individual journey of identity with the bittersweet angst of growing up, growing apart, and learning there are many ways to live and love.
Your Gender Book: Helping You Be You! by Ben Pechey
‘This book is here to hold your hand; to answer your questions; soothe your soul; help you understand yourself in new ways. The best place to start is at the beginning. The best time is now! So, turn the page and let’s explore who you are!’
If you are at the start of your journey with gender identity, or looking to help someone who is, this insightful guide offers a safe space to celebrate you becoming your true – and most joyful – self. With fun activities, resources and LGBTQ+ role models throughout, this book sheds light on everything from gender identity, sex, pronouns and expression, to barriers, mental health, allyship and finding happiness.
Written in Ben Pechey’s trademark witty, upbeat and vibrant style, this empowering tool will help you engage with your gender creatively and become your most authentic self.
Atana and the Firebird by Vivian Zhou
A mermaid, a firebird, and a witch become entangled with the mysterious and powerful Witch Queen, who may hold the key to each of their past in this epic middle grade fantasy by debut author Vivian Zhou.
Atana’s island may be quiet and peaceful, but mostly, it’s lonely. With the outside world full of magic hunters who would stop at nothing to capture a mermaid like her, Atana has never been brave enough to swim far from her island’s shores and seek the answers to her mysterious past—until a firebird named Ren unexpectedly crashes into her life.
Ren’s arrival does not go unnoticed, as it has been hundreds of years since a firebird last landed on Earth. Determined to both protect Ren and finally chase the answers she’s longed for, Atana embarks on an adventure that takes her and the firebird to strange new islands and entangles them with the powerful yet secretive Witch Queen.
Generous though the Witch Queen’s offer of protection may be, an invitation to the Blue Palace can’t come without a price. And while the Palace’s splendid halls and library might hold the key to Atana’s past, will she be willing to pay the cost when it risks her chance of a bright new future?
Ink Girls by Marieke Nijkamp, Illustrated by Sylvia Bi
Every secret is a story waiting to happen.
From New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp and illustrator Sylvia Bi, this debut middle grade graphic novel celebrates the power that everyone—even those often overlooked—has to create change. In a vibrant city, two girls from very different walks of life join forces to fight censorship and protect the people they love.
Eleven-year-old Cinzia is a printer’s apprentice. She adores Mestra Aronne for taking her in—most guilds don’t have room for apprentices with a crippled leg—and she loves life in the raggedy workshop that smells of paper and printing, where secrets and stories are always circulating. So when Mestra Aronne is imprisoned for publishing accusations against the ruling family, Cinzia will do anything to prove that Mestra Aronne only told the truth.
Elena is the exact same age as Cinzia, but she’s forced to keep to her rooms and garden. To protect her, according to her mother. To protect the city, according to her uncle. Because Elena is not the charming, powerful noble her family wants her to be. According to them, she doesn’t communicate well. She’s too gullible and literal and struggles to understand other people.
After unexpectedly meeting face-to-face, the girls follow a trail of clues through their golden city, drawing supporters and learning more about their home and each other than they ever could have imagined. If one person—no matter how young—can change the course of history, just imagine what a whole flock of them could do.
Bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp and debut illustrator Sylvia Bi have crafted an indelible, vibrant story about finding and using your voice, perfect for fans of Lightfall, Tidesong, and The Prince and the Dressmaker.