Book Review: Meet Polkadot

5 Dec

We are working on building up a kid’s liberation library.

Meet Polkadot is our newest addition, and I am pretty sure it is one of my favorites.

When it comes to children’s literature, there is basically one story about gender identity. It starts with a child wants to gender bend. Their friends, family and other important adults usually do not approve. The child is sad. Then somehow things turn around and the child is allowed to be trans*, gender fluid or otherwise do something outside the confines of social acceptability.

It isn’t a bad story. It definitely coincides with what frequently happens when real life kids rebel against the gender binary. That said, it is not the only story. I worry that the lack of variety in this department might enforce the notion that gender fluidity is an abnormal thing and that children should be afraid of challenging the binary.

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The Unicorn and Meet Polkadot before our first reading.

Meet Polkadot does not tell that story. Polkadot is a nonbinary, trans* kiddo with a great support system. They have a rocking big sister named Gladiola that not only supports her sibling, but acknowledges all that she needs to learn about gender. Gladiola identifies as a cisgender girl, but still argues that the gender binary doesn’t work for her.Polkadot’s best friend is Norma Alicia, a young person of color that talks about the importance of allyship to all of her identities.

While the Unicorn loves to look at the pictures and smack the pages as I read Meet Polkadot, the book is definitely one that will probably serve us best as they start to play with their own gender expression and identities. Several pages are dedicated to explaining sex, gender and expression. There’s also a page dedicated to trans* allyship. I figure the earlier we can subvert the dominant gender narrative, the better. 

Some readers may feel the book is advanced for children, but I would argue it is one to grow with. First, they can fall into the story of Polkadot, and then they can begin to play with the underlying themes. It is a real relief to encounter books for children that do not dilute big topics like race and gender, but instead take them on in an honest manner that still feels safe.

The book has also been a great teaching tool for some of the adults in the Unicorn’s life that are still catching on to why we insist on gender neutral pronouns and refuse to gender our baby. The easy definitions help illustrate our values without being overly preachy or theoretical.

Overall, this is the trans* liberation, pro-feminist and intersectional story of gender I’ve been looking for, and I am so glad that we found it.

You can get your copy of Meet Polkadot by Talcott Broadhead at Danger Dot Press.

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