cover image Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope

Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope

Jodie Patterson, illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Crown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-12363-8

This picture book companion to activist Patterson’s adult memoir The Bold World centers her transgender son Penelope’s coming-out journey, shortly before he turned five. Told in the first-person, the narrative follows Penelope, who knows that he’s a ninja, and knows what he likes—“Skateboards and high-tops, baggy blue jeans.” Initially, he acts out to get his busy family to pay attention, before he confides something else he knows to his mother: “No, Mama, I don’t feel like a boy. I AM a boy.” Without missing a beat, his mother affirms his identity: “We will make a plan to tell everyone we love what we know.... You are a boy.” Barlow’s illustrations, created digitally with handmade watercolor textures, emphasize the Black family’s expressions and movement, allowing young readers to take in the family’s emotions (and Penelope’s karate moves). A heartening true story for children that offers guidance to caretakers. Ages 4–8. [em](Apr.) [/em]