Book Review: My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

My Princess Boy imageI recently received my copy of Cheryl Kilodavis’s newly-released picture book, My Princess Boy. The book shares what it’s like to be Dyson, Kilodavis’s four-year-old pink boy. Mostly his life is happy, and he dances in sparkly glory while his family loves and affirms him. But sometimes people laugh at or criticize him and his mom, and that hurts their feelings.

The message of My Princess Boy is that it’s okay to be who you are, even if some people get freaked out and make mean comments. And that’s a wonderful thing to say to boys like ours, who don’t hear affirming messages often enough. It’s great to see a book that reflects the realities—both the lovely and the harsh—of being a pink boy.

As a piece of modern children’s literature, the book has a nice rhythm and simple, effective language. It’s a professionally-printed self-published book with beautiful illustrations meant for the 3-6 year old set. The book is not perfect—there isn’t really a story line of the sort that one expects to find in a children’s picture book, and, as my five-year-old daughter Ruby pointed out, “It’s weird that the people in the book don’t have faces.” Despite its minor flaws, this book has already been hugely important in expanding the national conversation about diverse gender expression. Kilodavis has appeared on television and in print talking about her book, and I was so pleased to see that this week Dyson’s story appears in People magazine. The more people who are introduced to this book, the better.

I would have loved to read this book to Sam when he was in preschool. It would have helped him to see that he was not alone, even though there were no other boys in his preschool like him. Reading it to him would have told him that, in yet another way, his parents love him (and, as an eight-year-old who read it to himself the other day, Sam had a smile on his face). Seeing the book in his grandparents’ house, his school library, or his doctor’s office waiting room would have told him that his community supports him. Making the book part of his world’s ephemera would tell him: you are okay just the way you are. You are part of this world, as much as the other kids who appear in the books that surround you. You belong here, with the rest of us. You are not alone.

So buy a copy for yourself. Buy a copy for all the pink boys you know. Buy copies for their grandparents and friends and aunts and uncles. Ask school libraries and local bookstores to stock it. Donate it to your local library if they won’t stock it. Ask your child’s teacher to let you come and read the book to the class, or ask them to read it. Ask the storytime lady at your local library to read it. And, as I always implore you: talk, talk, talk about what you read in this book. Post it on facebook, chat about it at school drop-off, work it into casual conversation. Because that’s how we make change, by making things normal, an integrated part of life. And My Princess Boy is an important way to start that conversation.

Share

Comments

  1. GirlyBoyMama says

    Great review, Sarah. I quite agree with Ruby. I’m still trying to find the symbolism in the lack of faces. That’s the only logical reason they were excluded; unfortunately, that symbolism is lost on the intended audience, I believe.

    But like you said, any and all media that gets this topic brought up in conversation is a winner in my book. I have a particular fondness for the older brother in this book deeply loves and protects his little brother. He is the most endearing character to me in this book.

    Thanks for reviewing this and giving it the attention it deserves!

  2. Jackie N says

    Saw the family on “The Talk” this week — great segment with Sharon Osborne. The Mom said something like the faces were left blank on purpose so a Princess Boy could be anyone and because they didn’t want to force the emotion, they wanted readers to decide the emotion themselves. Interesting logic… I like it.

    • Trenika says

      It’s amazing…I had my sons look at this and asked what they thought about seeing a boy dressed in a dress. They were like that’s crazy. The questions came later like, is he going to dress like that for the rest of his life? There child is a mini drag queen and they might as well let him grow his hair long and look like the girl that is inside of him; especially if that is what he wants to be. Everyone in the world deals with this sick twisted gender preference situation with their children growing up. Everyone has concerns and of course is scooping out every move and choices there young ones make to get an idea of what they are going to become when they grow up. However, like we know anything can change and I pray for the best with this family and anyone else out in the world dealing with this issue. People say accept people as they are but isn’t it true Jesus Christ himself was never accepted as the Messiah that’s why he was killed by the defiant ones that didnt want to accept who he was and his purpose. This world still doesn’t respect race and different social backgrounds. They will never change because its not meant to. This world is ending up the way it is supposed to a hot mess which is revealed in the bible. This story makes it more evident today. Our children have alot to deal with too early, too soon. They should be able to live and be children instead of worrying about this kind of mess. But that would only exist in a perfect world and that is not where we live. We live in a world full of imperfection. It’s sad.

  3. says

    When i boy 10 years old i wearing dresses, jeans, capris, leggings, a Pink tutu Ballerina slippers i like Pink, have a swimsuits one piece of course hey Dyson Kilodavis your totally cool, Pretty you, nobody should tell you what to wear, and not to wear we got something in common.

  4. says

    I reviewed My Princess Boy today on my kidlit blog, and then got curious and searched around for what others thought. I liked the lack of faces, but can see how kids might think it a bit odd.

    Anyway, it is a great book, and I was glad to find your review. Most of what I have seen is positive, although there are a few who really find the topic uncomfortable. Thanks for letting people know, and feel free to stop over and see my review if you like.

  5. LooLoo says

    I haven’t read the book, but I noticed that some people were bothered by the lack of faces. Maybe if a child is bothered by it, you could make it an activity for them to draw in the expression that might go with the story. Smiles when they are happy with their family, sad is someone in public says something mean. Could help a child to understand the emotions more and express how they feel as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>