It’s not June by any stretch of the imagination, but I just couldn’t help myself when I read Pride Puppy by Robin Stevenson and Julie McLaughlin. I just knew I had to review it immediately and give it two paws way up. It’s got diverse art! A queer family! A runaway and found puppy! Perfect for Pride Month but also any month of the year.
Pride Puppy is an unusual alphabet book in that it weaves an actual narrative through the letters of the alphabet. In addition to the actual text, each page is also a search-and-find of objects that start with that letter. The story follows a queer family – two parents, a young kiddo, an infant, and their dog – getting ready for a Pride event. One of the exciting developments in LGBTQ picture books is being able to see queer characters just existing. So many stories are about kids being shamed or bullied, or, at best, having to educate their classmates and teachers about who they are. When I get to see a family have the same joys and frustrations that any straight family would encounter – visits with grandma, dropped ice cream cones, skinned knees, making new friends – then I definitely sit up and take notice.
Something else I loved was how Julie McLaughlin’s illustrations are kid-friendly without sanitizing Pride. There are shoutouts to Martha P. Johnson, one of the founding mothers of the modern Pride movement. There are bodies of all shapes, colors, and sizes, meaning we get to see many people of color, many disabled folks, and many fat bodies that make up the LGBTQ community. Plus, there are nonsexualized images of people in bras or bikini tops, which is something you absolutely would see at a Pride event in June.
This image above – especially the S page – makes me a little teary-eyed. LGBTQ content in picture books has come a very, very long way in a short amount of time. Depicting children openly participating in Pride and identifying as members of the community is absolutely not something I was exposed to growing up, and it’s not something I would have found on the shelves when I started my first public librarian position in 2016. I cannot overemphasize the importance of giving kids representation and validity. Pride Puppy! isn’t just a cute, inclusive story or a fantastic ABC book, but also a marker of how far publishing has come.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend Pride Puppy! as part of your collection. You can pick up a copy from Bookshop, IndieBound, Amazon, or your local library through WorldCat.