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Starred Reviews




Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

★ Kirkus - 10/01/2023

Not He Or She, I'm Me_Cover_by A_edited.

A day in the life of a nonbinary kid. From the first page, Yangni’s mixed-media art sets a dynamic tone for this exuberant story. Accompanied by rich layers of acrylic paint, newsprint, crayon, watercolor, and more, gently rhyming text follows the young narrator as they get dressed, eat breakfast with Mom, and ride the bus to school. Throughout, the child repeats the titular mantra: “Not he or she, I’m me.” Instead of offering an explicit definition of nonbinary, Wild opts to represent one child’s version of it through a day brimming with wonder, connection, and play. An afternoon spent riding bikes with friends depicts young people embracing differences without fanfare. And how affirming it is for the protagonist when they get to be “them with friends / and them at home / them even when alone.” Amid a growing landscape of gender-focused picture books, this title shines for its effervescent illustrations and simple, utterly normalizing narrative. A perfect addition to any school, public, or home library, this story will delight young readers of any gender. The child at the heart of this charming story is Black, with a puff of coily hair; their mom is Black, with darker brown skin and long red hair, and the child’s classmates are racially diverse. How refreshing to see nonbinary joy so lovingly depicted. (Picture book. 3-9)





Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Booklist - 10/15/2023

In their debut children’s book, Wild beautifully weaves personal experiences as a queer, nonbinary person into a heartwarming narrative that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. The simple story follows a nonbinary child with brown skin as they go about their day, from waking up in the morning, getting dressed, and having breakfast with their mom, to going to school, playing with friends, and falling asleep in their bed. In one relatable scene, the character enthusiastically runs toward the school bus, proclaiming, “Not he or she, I’m me.” This simple yet profound statement repeats throughout the book. Wild’s storytelling humanizes the experiences of nonbinary children, offering a positive depiction of embracing one’s true identity. Marvelous illustrations also add to the book’s celebratory feel. Yangni’s vibrant mixed-media artwork layers textures and rainbow hues into joyful collages that show the much-loved child confidently and happily moving through their day. Not He or She, I’m Me would be at home among Todd Parr’s many affirming titles, and vitally promotes empathy, understanding, and validation as it normalizes nonbinary identities and experiences. Book such as this allow us to foster a world where every child can proudly say, “I’m me.” — Juan Manzanares




Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

★ BCCB - November 2023

The warmth of everyday gender euphoria is burnished to brilliant radiance in this visually resplendent picture book. Readers experience quite an average day for nonbinary child Rae: they get ready in the morning, go to school, play with their friends, spend some time alone, and go to bed. Yet Rae’s world is unique, vibrating cheerfully with Wild’s bouncy prose and Yangni’s multimedia collage art; Rae greets the morning alongside trees freshly dabbed in yellow paint then hops along gouache sidewalks in their crayon-scribbled red boots. As Rae goes through their day, combing their hair in the style they like and getting a hug from their mom, the refrain of “Not he or she, I’m me” reaffirms their identity and gender expression like light through a shifting prism, creating new meaning each time. Brightly saturated tones create pleasing, bustling texture, and the array of colors and patterns in the world reflect Rae’s joyful relationship to “choosing my clothes: / dots, stripes, or stars.” A sun-soaked afterschool hangout with friends is equally welcoming: dynamic overhead illustrations and free-wheeling tree-climbing scenes overlay with messages of freedom of gender expression, friendship, and seeing one another from multiple perspectives. This makes a gentle but firm reminder to readers that regardless of the place or company, Rae’s identity is their own: “them with my friends / and them at home, / them even when alone.” In holding the commonplace as remarkable and vice versa, the book invites readers to see and revel in everyday gender euphoria, and so better celebrate those little galaxies that contain multitudes.  MC

Most empowering picture books of 2023 - Kirkus

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