A beautiful new picture book by a two-mom couple has succeeded in its crowdfunding campaign and is now available! It’s a great story about a child learning that it’s okay to express her emotions—and the fact that she has two moms is incidental.
Mighty May Won’t Cry Today, by Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo and illustrated by Erica De Chavez (Bunny Patch Press), stars a girl named May encountering new friends and challenges on her first day of school. May finds solutions to various problems, like tripping on her way into the classroom, getting paint on her shirt, and forgetting her smoothie for lunch. Throughout it all, she tries to stay brave and not cry. When she misses her stop on the school bus, however, she can’t help herself, and the tears come gushing out. The kind bus driver calls her moms and takes her home.
Back home, her moms share stories of times when they cried, too—Mama’s first time ice skating, on their first date; when they think of a pet whom they miss; when they got married; when May arrived. They explain, “It’s OK to shed a tear. It’s part of our emotions, sadness, joy, frustration, fear.”
Kudos to the Ocampos for not making any of May’s challenges related to her having two moms; that’s an overdone trope. As I’ve said many times before, we need more LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books that don’t show being LGBTQ or having LGBTQ parents as a “problem,” even if the supposed problem is later shown to be incorrect. That shouldn’t be the only narrative of LGBTQ lives. The Ocampos instead give us a lesson about an aspect of social-emotional learning that just happens to involve a girl with two moms.
The story is written in rhyming prose, interspersed with onomatopoeic words that should make it particularly fun to read-aloud. Raindrops “drip, drip, drip”; May’s heart goes “da dum, da dum, da dum” as she rides to school; she goes “zigzag, zoom” into her classroom, where she paints “swoosh, swoosh, swoosh” with her brush.
De Chavez, who has a day job as a children’s book designer at HarperCollins Publishers, has brought her professional-quality skills to bear here in her bright and bold illustrations, elevating this above many self-published works. The rich, saturated colors give a depth and vibrancy to May’s world. May is White, as is one of her moms; the other has a darker skin tone and could be read as Asian. Several of the other children in May’s class appear to be people of color.
The Ocampos exceeded their Kickstarter goal (which I wrote about in February), which meant that in addition to sending books to their backers, they also donated several copies to schools and libraries. (Their more than successful campaign also shows the definite demand for such stories.) Thanks to any of you who may have backed it—and even if you didn’t, you can now simply purchase a copy or recommend it to your local library!
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