cover image Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship

Jessica Walton, illus. by Dougal MacPherson. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68119-210-9

Errol’s teddy bear, Thomas, seems terribly sad—not even playing on the swing in the park helps. Finally, Thomas reveals why: “In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.” Errol doesn’t respond with confusion, anger, or even a speech about tolerance—he offers cheery, unconditional love (“What matters is that you are my friend”), and life goes on much as it did before—except that Tilly now wears what was once Thomas’s bow tie on her head. “Wear whatever makes you happy!” says Errol’s equally unfazed friend Ava. Debut author Walton, who has a transgender parent, posits a world that has moved beyond acceptance to essentially “no biggie.” Whether being this far ahead of the curve does justice to the transgender experience is debatable, though the book’s spirit of easygoing openness makes it a worthwhile resource. Debut artist MacPherson’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are striking for their emotional immediacy and compositional polish, and he effortlessly moves from the poignancy of the opening pages to breezy good times. Ages 3–6. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (May)