Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review - Jacob's Room to Choose

Jacob's Room to Choose
by Sarah Hoffman & Ian Hoffman
illustrated by Chris Case
Date: 2019
Publisher: Magination Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

The beloved lead character from Jacob's New Dress is back in an encouraging story about gender expression. When Jacob goes to the boys' bathroom he is chased out because the boys think he looks like a girl because of the way he is dressed. His classmate, Sophie, has a similar experience when she tries to go to the girls' bathroom. When their teacher finds out what happened, Jacob and Sophie, with the support of administration, lead change at their school as everyone discovers the many forms of gender expression and how to treat each other with respect.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is actually the second book about Jacob, the first being Jacob's New Dress (which I haven't read). Jacob's Room to Choose, however, stands on its own as a sweet story of gender-nonconforming kids and their fight to pee in peace.

When Jacob (who wears a dress) and his friend Sophie (who wears pants) try to go to the bathroom, they're immediately chased out by kids who think they don't belong there (even though Jacob has tried to use the boys' bathroom and Sophie the girls'; they can't win!). When they tell their teacher what happened, she starts a gentle discussion about gender stereotypes with the class. Can a girl wear pants and still be a girl? Of course! What about a boy with long hair? Is he still a boy? The kids catch on to the idea pretty quickly, and then they come up with all sorts of new signs for the bathrooms ("I have to pee, so let me be!", "Use the bathroom that is comfy 4 u", and, my favourites, "Bathroom with a urinal" and "Bathroom without a urinal"). At the end, with the support of their teacher, classmates, and principal, Jacob and Sophie are finally able to use the bathrooms in peace.

The authors' note at the end, talking about their son, is just heartbreaking, and shows why books like this are needed. (It doesn't matter if he's wearing a dress; a little boy should not have to dodge punches while using the urinal.) The sooner children learn that gender expression isn't some binary thing set in stone, the better... and this book starts off that conversation quite nicely.

Thank you to NetGalley and Magination Press for providing a digital ARC.

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

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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