cover image Toby Wears a Tutu

Toby Wears a Tutu

Lori Starling, illus. by Anita DuFalla. Brandylane, $22.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-951565-39-8

Toby, a child with a shaved head, purple glasses, and light brown skin, is excited for their first day of school—that is, until recess, when their classmates make a point of asking whether they are a girl or a boy. After consulting their mother after school, who encourages the child to “grab hold of my courage,” Toby returns the next day ready to affirm their identity: “most days, I don’t feel like either [a boy or a girl]... I feel like Toby, and it’s okay to just be me,” Starling writes. Scratchy-textured illustrations by DuFalla include characters of different skin tones, hair textures, and abilities, with Toby shown in a kid-friendly range of outfits and accessories. Paragraphs skew long, but age-appropriate prose and a simple yet compelling first-person narrative should prove engaging for early readers. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)