Walton, Jessica. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship. Illustrations by Dougal MacPherson. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. Hardback. Unpaged 32p. $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-68119-210-9
Both the story and pictures of this quiet book will be understood by very young children. Errol plays with Thomas his teddy bear, but Thomas the teddy is sad. Teddy is worried that if he says why, Errol won’t like him anymore. Thomas is really a girl teddy and wants to be called Tilly. Errol assures him it doesn’t matter and they go on playing as always, in reassuringly repeated phrases.
Dougal MacPherson’s pastel illustrations suggest the artwork of a child. Pages are uncluttered with just a few, well-chosen details. The very simple faces convey a lot of feeling. And the children’s activities pictured are gently non-gendered.
The author is Australian which may account for her usage of “teddy” that I found confusing. If I were reading the book aloud to an American child, I would say teddybear to avoid introducing a second boy’s name. Aside from that caveat, the book will serve its author’s purpose well to provide a way for families to explain to small children when a relative transitions to another gender. It can certainly be read to any child as a story of empathy and friendship.
Reviewed by: Carolyn Caywood, Retired from Virginia Beach Public Library
retired from Virginia Beach Public Library