Written by: Eileen Kiernan-Johnson
Illustrated by: Katrina Revenaugh
Published by: Huntley Rahara Press, 2012
Ages: 4 upwards
Themes: peer pressure, gender conformity, tolerance, self-acceptance,
“That’s right,” chimed in Lucy, who readily agreed, here are some helpful pointers you need.
Since you’re a boy, pink isn’t allowed— not if you want to be in with the crowd.”
Roland Humphrey is a little boy who is creative, smart, athletic and silly with quite an array of interests and a strong preference for his own unique dress style and colors. He is confused and upset as he starts school and discovers an unwritten set of rules of interests and dress to which boys are meant to conform. His “friends” Lucy and Ella continue to ply him with do and don’t lists of what is expected of him as a boy. Fortunately Roland Humphrey has a very understanding Mom and when he explains his confusion about why it’s okay for little girls to wear jeans and play football but not okay for little boys to wear dresses and like ballet, she has just the right encouragement for him. He needs to choose whether to conform to peer pressure or be his authentic self and risk losing some friends.
Why I like this Book:
I appreciate Roland Humphrey’s courage in challenging the lack of logic and compassion in his friends’ sets of gender rules. His decision to be authentic to himself, with encouragement from his Mom, opens the eyes of his friends to their prejudice and how silly it would be to lose a friend over the color pink! While addressing specifically gender norms, this story lends itself to exploring the diversity children might encounter in cultural, educational and socio-economic backgrounds. All children have different experiences and varied interests in life. This is a welcome addition to the picture book ranks encouraging tolerance, especially of young children exploring gender norms, and the message is very hopeful. The lists the girls create are ultra typical, especially of little girls, and humor is used well to enliven the strong message. The unusual use of pattern and shape in the colorful illustrations is intriguing. The message is awesome but the choice of a fairly lengthy text, written in rhyming couplets is perhaps not the best format for this picture book, which I feel would have been better served by prose. That said, I do think the story is strong and it makes a good read-aloud. Children will latch onto Roland Humphrey’s fun personality and courage with ease. Why shouldn’t a little boy like baseball and barrettes in his hair? Isn’t this title catchy?
This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work.