Harper: The Snakes by Sadie Jones

When Aidan Became a Brother

"When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl." But his name, his room, his clothes just didn't fit. Aidan realized "he was really another kind of boy": Aidan is transgender. With the help of other families with transgender children, Aidan's family figured things out. Now his parents have announced they are having another child, making Aidan a soon-to-be big brother. As the baby's arrival approaches, he expresses his fears: "I don't want them to feel like I did when I was little, but what if I get everything wrong? What if I don't know how to be a good big brother?" Thoughtfully, his mother explains, "We didn't know you were going to be our son. We made some mistakes, but you helped us fix them." Most fundamentally, "you taught us how important it is to love someone for exactly who they are."

Like Aidan, when author Kyle Lukoff (A Storytelling of Ravens) was born, everyone thought he was a girl; he reveals in his author's note that parts of his own story are "very much like Aidan's." Kaylani Juanita clearly enjoys challenging gender expectations with her digital illustrations. As Aidan explores "different ways of being a boy," Juanita shows him posing in a superhero cape (with cutouts from his discarded dresses) and wearing pink shoes with bows. His wardrobe couldn't be more gender-defyingly fabulous, comprised of a mishmash of stripes, zig-zags, checks and animal prints. Together, Lukoff and Juanita create "a world that supports and believes in [Aidan]," modeling a community that embraces "all different kinds of kids." With insight and empathy, both author and artist encourage and enable young readers to help "create that world." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon