cover image Miss Rita, Mystery Reader

Miss Rita, Mystery Reader

Sam Donovan and Kristen Wixted, illus. by Violet Tobacco. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-2507-7476-7

Tori, a dark-haired nonbinary child, is excited for their father’s drag persona, Miss Rita, to be their class’s “Mystery Reader” in this upbeat picture book. Tori participates in Miss Rita’s preparations, choosing the perfect makeup, wig, and gown (“Because sparkle is... serious business”). When Tori admits that they’re afraid their class won’t “love Miss Rita as much as I do,” Daddy’s reassurances inspire them to become Miss Rita’s assistant, complete with rainbow socks and a glittery skirt. The light-skinned duo hand out costumes to enthusiastic students portrayed with a range of skin tones, and story time begins. Tori’s feelings—from excitement to wide-eyed nervousness—are clear in Tobacco’s digital art, while bright colors evoke drag’s vibrant nature. Donovan and Wixted’s conversational text emphasizes an emotionally honest parent-child relationship, and like any good performance, it’s fun and full of heart. An authors’ note includes context on drag, gender identity, and LGBTQ activism. Ages 3–6. (May)

Correction: A previous version of this review misattributed the creators' names.