A Boy Like You – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: A Boy Like You

Author: Frank Murphy

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

 Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

Ages: 3-7

Genre: Concept picture book

Themes: following dreams, being brave, asking for help, gender stereotypes, ways to be a boy, masculinity

Opening:

There are billions and billions and billions of people on the world. But you are the only YOU there is!

And the world needs a boy like you.

Synopsis:

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.

Why I like this book:

We need books that extol kindness, courage, thoughtfulness, crying is okay, friendliness. This could have come across in a very didactic way, but the author has managed to keep his message gentle and inspirational by focusing on each boy’s unique contribution to his world, and with his emphasis on all our daily interactions and the opportunities they offer for personal growth. Part of me questions the need for a “boy focused” message as, of course this applies to girls too, but maybe this is part of the necessary antidote to the constant bombardment of messages of toxic masculinity many of our young boys receive.

Activities/resources:

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.

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10 Responses to A Boy Like You – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. I’m with you with regard to the question whether we need a ‘boy focused’ message, but yes, like you, I think maybe it has to be out there to counteract the ongoing display of toxic masculinity, even though I would love to see boys (and everyone else!) take this message of kindness from anyone, regardless of gender. But we have to start somewhere. Right?

    • FRANK MURPHY says:

      Hi, Mina.
      Thanks for posting about A Boy Like You. Re: “whether we need a ‘boy focused’ message” – you’re right, anyone can learn from the messages in this book, regardless of gender or age or anything else. And I hope girls read it, too — and like it. (BTW – I am working on A Girl Like You!)

      There were a few primary factors that propelled me to put these words to paper with the intention of creating a picture book. One was this: I was seeing so many (needed) picture books empowering girls (…and I love this!). I thought that it was necessary to create a picture book that helps to convey messages that combat the many confusing messages boys receive about masculinity – messages that are often toxic — and this had to be done delivering the messages directly to boys. For years I’ve noticed a pervasive “boy problem” that occurs on playgrounds at schools, on sports teams, in video game communities, and in so many other areas…the problem of “toxic masculinity” (I don’t love this label, but for communication/conversation purposes we can roll with it…).

      This book IS my humble attempt “to counteract the ongoing display of toxic masculinity” – as you wrote. The book has TWO author’s notes in the back matter. I go into further detail about the topic of strength and why I wrote this book.

      Thanks so much, Mina, for your thoughts and kind words!

      With gratitude,
      Frank Murphy

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Love this! The trailer is fantastic! And I love that opening spread, too. Looking forward to finding and sharing this one. Thanks, Joanna!

    • FRANK MURPHY says:

      Thank you, Jilanna!!! (Great first name!!!)

      The trailer was fun to make! The first voice is my dear friend Barbara Dan (a second-grade teacher) – her voice is magical…classic elementary school teacher “read aloud voice”!

      And Kayla Harren really captured so much with that first spread!!

      Thanks again!

      Frank

  3. What a gorgeous cover! maybe we need some of these to give boys their (non stereotypical) empowering messages like all the books for girls.

    • FRANK MURPHY says:

      Exactly, Beth!!

      This was my intention!! I love all the books for girls – from the fiction to the picture book biographies. But I thought there was a void (a little bit) regarding picture books for boys and leadership lessons.

      Thanks,
      Frank

  4. Frank Murphy says:

    Hi Joanna! Thank you for this beautiful feature of A Boy Like You – love your words. I love reading the comments, too. I will try to reply to each as they post.

  5. What a beautiful cover! I agree with Frank’s earlier comment that is high time that we celebrate EVERYONE’s individuality. We all are, and can be, a jumble of emotions and strengths. Boys should not be shamed for being sensitive, creative, and generous. Unfortunately, I think it is a symptom of a much deeper problem of accepting individuals for who they are (instead of putting them into a convenient box). This is an important book for all kids (and many adults) to read. Thanks Joanna for a great review.

  6. Patricia Nozell says:

    Great review, Joanna, and thoughts about why we need books like this one. I wish this had been around when my own son was young.

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