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MTYT: Back to Front and Upside Down

In this week’s My Take/Your Take Mary, Christopher and Leslie share their takes on Back to Front and Upside Down by Claire Alexander. The story begins with a morning visit from the school principal, Mr. Slippers, to Stan’s kindergarten classroom. It’s Mr. Slippers birthday and he invites the class to his birthday party that afternoon. Stan’s troubles begin when he tries to write “Happy Birthday” on a card for Mr. Slippers. The letters come out muddled and Stan is afraid to ask Miss Catnip for help. After some encouraging words from his classmate, Mimi, Stan asks for help. With instructions from Miss Catnip, Stan practices and practices and practices until he can write the letters conventionally on Mr. Slipper’s card. The story closes with Stan proudly telling Mr. Slippers that “I wrote it all by myself” (Alexander, 2012, n.p.).

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MTYT: Emmanuel’s Dream

Just say “award-winning book” to a group of children’s and adolescent literature enthusiasts and listen to the many, various takes each offer to the conversation! But what happens when preservice teachers in the novice stages of exploring children’s and adolescent literature share their take on award-winning picturebooks? This month Mary (an enthusiast), Christopher and Leslie (preservice teachers) share their takes on Schneider Family Award winning picturebooks. The perspectives for this month’s My Take/Your Take clearly show that regardless of the depth of knowledge one has about picturebooks, everyone has their own take on its merits. We begin with a discussion of Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Anne Thompson and Sean Qualls.

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MTYT: Symptoms of Being Human

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

Riley is a gender fluid teenager who struggles with their identity on daily basis — sometimes Riley feels like a boy, other times a girl, and sometimes neither. The added weight of a sometimes complicated secret gender identity on a normal teenager is often overwhelming to Riley, so at the suggestion of their therapist, Riley creates an online blog using an alias as a method of venting their frustrations as well as to create a forum to openly discuss their struggles as a gender fluid person. Despite these difficulties, Riley is beginning to settle in at a new school with new friends (Bec and Solo) who seem to accept them for who they are. When an anonymous commenter on Riley’s blog discovers their true identity, Riley must decide whether to erase the blog and walk away from this newfound safe space or to come out and face their parents and the rest of the world.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin Continue reading

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MTYT: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe, who has been living as Elizabeth, but has known for some time that he is Gabe and must figure out a way to show himself to the world. Through his job at a local radio station, and with the support of his friend and neighbor, John, Gabe is able to experiment with sharing his identity during his late-night radio show. Unfortunately, people eventually begin to make the connections between Gabe and Elizabeth, and when things take a turn for the worst, Gabe must make some difficult decisions. Using humor and a wide range of musical references, Cronn-Mills addresses the delicate subject of an often ignored population in a way that is authentic and engaging.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills Continue reading

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MTYT: Luna

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

Liam has never felt okay in his own skin because deep down, he knows that he is a girl playing a boy during his waking hours. At night, though, Luna emerges. Safe in the confines of her sister Regan’s bedroom, she transforms into the girl that she is inside. As Luna becomes more comfortable with her chosen identity, she can’t hide from the world anymore. Luna feels she must emerge from her cocoon and present as Luna to the world. But will Regan and the rest of Luna’s friends and family be able to accept Luna for who she is? And can Regan ever stop resenting the choices that Luna has made and how those choices affect her? Peters’ novel shows the struggles of a transgender teen trying to come to terms with her identity as well as shows readers how Luna’s struggles (and the struggles of others like her) can impact the lives of close friends and family members.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters Continue reading

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MTYT: I am J

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, Leanna Lucero and Tabitha P. Collins

This month we discuss adolescent literature that features coming out stories of transgender and gender fluid adolescents. Mary and Leanna happened upon this genre when they brainstormed ways to interpret a Crossing Borders theme in their undergraduate teacher-education classes. Tabitha, a doctoral candidate, focuses on children’s and adolescent literature that features LGBTQ+ characters as part of their research agenda. What follows in each discussion is a synopsis of the novel and excerpts from our conversations about multiple topics including believability (Tunnel & Jacobs, 2004), stereotypes, story patterns (Stott, 1978), supports in place for LGBTQ youth (particularly at school), and the authors’ calls to action.

I Am J by Cris Beam, global perspectives

January’s My Take/Your Take begins with a discussion of I am J by Cris Beam. Continue reading