I found one of Max’s new favorite authors on a British chat show. If you’re not familiar with The Graham Norton Show, I suggest you look it up on YouTube or BBC One right away.
Graham, who long ago surpassed Ellen DeGeneres as my favorite, is a cheeky and funny host. His guests interact while sitting, chatting and drinking on a red couch. (This was prior to Covid-19) It’s looser and more relaxed than most programs and it doesn’t matter if you know the U.K. stars as they often are more amusing than the familiar American guests.
This is how I discovered David Walliams, actor, writer and comedian. (He’s wildly successful and his books are in 53 languages.) Max just finished Bad Dad, telling me I would like it.
When I pressed for more info, he said, “I just liked it. I know you’re trying to blog about it but I can’t tell you anything else.”
Fair enough. I read Walliams’ first book, The Boy in the Dress, a sweet story about a boy who …surprise…likes to wear dresses. The book captures the immediate fallout when he’s discovered and the eventual resolution that being different is a strength.
While writing about boys that wear dresses is easy for me, I’ve struggled how to lift Black and marginalized voices in this space since the death of George Floyd and many others this year. I’ve drafted a couple of posts, fretted and not posted. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or coming across like I think I’m an expert (far from it) but decided not saying anything is worse.
Instead of looking back at the books we read when the boys are younger, I’ve turned to what they’re reading now.
I’ve found that the graphic novels Calvin likes to read are wonderful representations of the gender spectrum, Black, Indigenous and people of color and people with disabilities. These books have led to some good conversations at our house. The characters and the beautiful illustrations in these page-turning stories will stick with you.
A few favorites include:
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Stargazing by Jen Wang
The Witch Boy series by Molly Knox.
Jerry Craft writes about race and socioeconomic status in his award-winning New Kid and recent release, Class Act
Max and Calvin read March: Book One by John Lewis and Nate Powell (at school!) so March: Book Two was under our Christmas tree
The Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed is a sad but hopeful story about Somali refugees