January 19, 2018

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They She He Me by Matthew Smith-Gonzalez & Maya Gonzalez | SLJ Review

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redstarSMITH-GONZALEZ, Matthew & Maya Gonzalez. They She He Me. illus. by Maya Gonzalez. 40p. Reflection Pr. Oct. 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781945289064.

PreS-Gr 4 –The authors have succeeded in creating a gorgeous and much-needed picture book about pronouns and gender fluidity. Rich watercolor artwork, done in a spectrum of blue and green jewel tones, depicts a line of smiling people, each with a different skin color and all sporting a unique style; the abundance of visual detail is sure to provoke audience participation. Minimal text complements the lush illustrations: a solid-color strip runs along the bottom of each spread and indicates the pronoun (“She, “He,” “They,” “Ze,” etc.) of the figure above (some figures appear twice, emphasizing that people can use multiple pronouns to describe themselves). The final spread reveals a plethora of familiar faces and the word we sprinkled jovially throughout. A more text-heavy “Pronouns” section explains pronoun function and flexibility in language suitable for the audience. Back matter discusses gender ambiguity and inclusivity “for the grown-ups” and stresses the importance of embracing nonbinary gender terminology in the book and beyond. Librarians can use this title with both young listeners as an introduction and with older students in conversations on nuance and fluidity. VERDICT A beautiful and gentle exploration of identity and kindness. Recommended for all collections.–Ashleigh ­Williams, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2017 issue.

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