Sunday, July 22, 2018

Review - Pink Is for Boys

Pink Is for Boys
by Robb Pearlman
illustrated by Eda Kaban
Date: 2018
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

An empowering and educational picture book that proves colors are for everyone, regardless of gender.

Pink is for boys... and girls... and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it's racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.

Parents and kids will delight in Robb Pearlman's sweet, simple script, as well as its powerful message: life is not color-coded.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I wanted to like this one. In some ways, I did. The text is simple and straight to the point, and the illustrations are very, very cute. Pink for girls and blue for boys is a fairly recent idea; before that, it was the other way around. I was looking forward to a book that smashes those gender conventions and lets kids know they can wear (and like) whatever colour they please.

But... when you have a book that's supposed to be about demolishing gender stereotypes, it's not great to see them reinforced within the first few pages! While there is diversity in ethnicity (many children of colour are represented) and abilities (there's a boy in a wheelchair), it's very much a Western representation of children. The very first colour (pink) has children of both genders dressing up in their fancy clothes... which, for every single girl on the pages, means a dress. To make matters worse, the next colour (blue) is implied as being for sports uniforms. So there's still a subconscious gender divide: pink is for "girly" activities like fancy dance parties, and blue is for "boyish" activities like sports. Maybe if the book hadn't started with those two colours, I wouldn't have noticed this issue as much as I did. But, once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it. That made me read the rest with a more jaded eye. While the girls do wear pants and shorts as casual clothes, any time they're dressed up, they're in a dress. Boys are always in bifurcated garments (so don't expect to see any kilts or sarongs here).

I guess this book is heading in the right direction. The illustrations are so cute that they kind of saved it for me. The overall message is nice, but I think things could've been shaken up even more to really shatter those gender stereotypes. When we get a book with a little boy in a bright pink sarong and a little girl in a fancy blue three-piece suit and a non-binary kid wearing whatever they choose simply because they like it, then we'll really have made some progress.

Quotable moment:

Pink is for boys.
And girls.

And bows
on fancy clothes.

Blue is for girls.
And boys.

And uniforms
on a team.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.33 out of 5

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