cover image Dazzling Travis: A Story About Being Confident & Original

Dazzling Travis: A Story About Being Confident & Original

Hannah Carmona Dias, illus. by Brenda Figueroa. Cardinal Rule, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9976085-6-4

In cheery rhymes, Dias introduces Travis, a boy who likes dressing as a knight as much as dancing ballet: “Dresses and armor:/ Pink, black, or green./ I pretend I’m a knight,/ A king or a queen.” But while he’s confident, kids on the playground antagonize him about playing with a doll. Travis responds boldly: “I am who I am!/ There’s no boy and girl line./ In sports or in dress-up,/ I’ll sparkle and shine.” Like Travis, his friends’ personalities shine through their nongendered clothing and the toys they choose (one boy wears fairy wings; two girls play with a fire truck and a robot). While the characters show individuality in their clothing choices, Figueroa’s artwork can feel stiff. Dias offers little nuance in favor of a straightforward message about embracing individuality, defying stereotypes, and standing up against bullies. Back matter includes brief, seemingly arbitrarily chosen biographies of Fernando Bujones, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Stride—a supplement too insubstantial to meaningfully enhance the story. Ages 5–7.[em] (Apr.) [/em]