Title: Introducing Teddy, a gentle story about gender and friendship
Author: Jessica Walton
Illustrator: Dougal MacPherson
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2016
Themes: transgender, gender nonconforming, teddies, friendship, acceptance, lgbtqia+, gender roles, transgender issues
Errol and Thomas the teddy play together every day. They ride their bike in the backyard. They plant vegetables in the garden. They have sandwiches for lunch in the tree house.
One sunny day, Errol finds that Thomas the Teddy is sad, and Errol can’t figure out why. Then Thomas the Teddy finally tells Errol what Teddy has been afraid to say:
‘In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl Teddy, not a boy Teddy. I wish my name was Tilly.’ And Errol says, ‘I don’t care if you’re a girl teddy or a boy teddy! What matters is that you are my friend.’
Why I like this book:
This very simple story is
probably the youngest I have found that touches on a trans’ experience. It
explores the fear of teddy that his friend Errol will no longer want to be friends
with him if he tells him his secret. It explores pronouns, gender and naming
people. And, just as importantly, it explores the no drama ways to respond to
this whenever it comes up, and how so often young children have no qualms at
all about accepting a gender change in a friend.
I particularly liked Ada, a friend who builds robots in her spare time, who also seemed to have some genderqueerness hinted at, although this was not explicit.
Seeing Tilly ending up so happy at the end as she and Errol do the same things as they had at the start, only now with the acknowledgement that Tilly is a girl, was just heartwarming. Introducing Teddy” not only introduces this reality gently and accompanies the message by simply saying that being who you want to be is ok, and that true friends will love you for who you are no matter what, and with that going to a place that is beyond gender.
Sometimes simple is really better and all that is needed to deliver a powerful message.
This is a terrific conversation starter.
Download an adorable Introducing Teddy Poster from the publisher.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.