Reviewed by Ashleigh Williams
The authors have succeeded in creating a gorgeous and much-needed picture book about pronouns and gender fluidity. Rich watercolor artwork, done in a spectrum of blue and green jewel tones, depicts a line of smiling people, each with a different skin color and all sporting a unique style; the abundance of visual detail is sure to provoke audience participation. Minimal text complements the lush illustrations: a solid-color strip runs along the bottom of each spread and indicates the pronoun (“She, “He,” “They,” “Ze,” etc.) of the figure above (some figures appear twice, emphasizing that people can use multiple pronouns to describe themselves).
The final spread reveals a plethora of familiar faces and the word we sprinkled jovially throughout. A more text-heavy “Pronouns” section explains pronoun function and flexibility in language suitable for the audience. Back matter discusses gender ambiguity and inclusivity “for the grown-ups” and stresses the importance of embracing nonbinary gender terminology in the book and beyond. Librarians can use this title with both young listeners as an introduction and with older students in conversations on nuance and fluidity. VERDICT A beautiful and gentle exploration of identity and kindness. Recommended for all collections.
They, She, He, Me by Maya & Matthew Gonzalez
Published by Reflection Press on 2017-10
Reading Level: Grade K, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
Review Source: School Library Journal
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Publisher's Synopsis: How do you daily confirm and celebrate gender fluidity when the 'he' and 'she' binary is so prevalent in EVERYTHING, everywhere, all the time!?
Pronouns serve as a familiar starting point for kids and grown-ups to expand ideas about gender and celebrate personal expression with fun imagery that provides a place to meet and play.
Award winning children's book author and artist Maya Gonzalez is joined by her partner, Matthew, in their first children's book together.
With virtually no reflection for different gender presentations in children's books available, together they created a book to do just that. They She He Me, Free to Be shows many gender presentations under each pronoun and invites even more. A go-to place to help keep the conversations alive, break down assumptions of who is "she" or "he" and expand beyond the binary to include "they" and more.
The back offers a playful narrative about pronouns, inviting kids to know themselves inside and out, claim the pronouns that express the spirit of who they are and respect that in others. Also included is some discussion for grown-ups on how to hold a supportive space for kids (and for themselves).
This book stands on its own, but it also serves as a great reference to expand gender in other books and media. They She He Me also pairs perfect with, The Gender Wheel, a story about Bodies and Gender for Every Body. Together these books offer a firm foundation of radical gender inclusion for parents, educators and caregivers to share with their kids.