Tag: Bob

“Popcorn Bob,” an Early Chapter Book with a Two-Dad Family, Is a Blast

"Popcorn Bob," an Early Chapter Book with a Two-Dad Family,

While the number of LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books for most age ranges has seen exponential growth in recent years, early chapter books with LGBTQ characters remain exceedingly rare. There’s a new one out this week, though: a fun and fantastical story about a girl and a piece of popcorn that comes to life. Oh, and the girl has two dads, but that’s happily incidental to the tale.

Popcorn Bob - Maranke Rinck

Ellis loves popcorn. Really loves it. The star of Popcorn Bob, by award-winning Dutch husband-wife duo Maranke Rinck and Martijn van der Linden (Levine Querido), microwaves it for herself every day after school. When she has to do a self-portrait for class showing what’s in her head, she draws it stuffed with popcorn. A crisis ensues, therefore, when her school decides to ban unhealthy food, including popcorn, and her dads go on a similar health-food kick, relegating the microwave to the shed. Ellis continues to make and eat her favorite snack in secret, though, after she discovers the shed has a power outlet. Her dads, who make their living designing rubber duckies, are blissfully unaware.

Little does Ellis know, though, that a highly illegal growing formula has tainted a crop of corn from the U.S. and one of its kernels has made its way into her home. When she microwaves it, it turns into Popcorn Bob, a large anthropomorphic kernel with an attitude. Bob is hungry. Always hungry. And he doesn’t care that Ellis is trying to keep his existence quiet—at home and in school. He calls out wrong answers from her pocket in the middle of class and even eats the principal’s candy bar. After days of his misbehavior, she tries to find a way to get rid of him, only to discover that he’s actually kind of fun. But Bob seems to have run away….

There’s a sort of inspired silliness here that I like, and a narrative pace that keeps the action moving. Van der Linden’s pencil drawings, which sometimes carry bits of dialog, also make this a great transition book for children not quite ready for all-text middle grade books. It would also make a fun read-aloud for slightly younger children. Ellis and her dads are all White; the children in her class are of various skin tones.

There’s a light theme about friendship, too, although the overall intent seems more to entertain than to convey moral lessons. That’s fine; pure entertainment has value, too—and the complete non-issue of the two dads has value of its own. It’s actually rather refreshing to read an LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ book that isn’t weighty with Deep Messages. Sometimes we just want to be amused.

Even better, the marketing materials for the book state upfront that one of the reasons the publicity team loves the story is “gay dads—but that’s not what it’s about!” The folks at Levine Querido clearly understand that not all stories with LGBTQ characters need to focus on their LGBTQ identities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the publisher was founded by award-winning publisher Arthur A. Levine, a gay dad himself.

Popcorn Bob officially goes on sale tomorrow, though you can preorder it today. It was was translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, and a sequel is planned for this fall.

Glittering evidence Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara might just conquer the world / Queerty

Glittering evidence Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara

We’re Here

Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

The Uplifting: We’re Here

Fans and non-fans of Drag Race take note: though the new HBO series We’re Here features three alumni of the beloved drag competition, do not expect tantrums and epic throwing of shade. We’re Here stars Shangela, Eureka O’Hara and Bob the Drag Queen. Each episode finds the three riding their handbag-shaped RVs to a different conservative city around the country with a singular goal: unite the queer and straight communities by putting on a drag show. For the three queens, that means finding drag protegees to add to the show in each episode. And, as anyone familiar with the work of Bob, Eureka or Shangela will attest: each drag number throbs with energy and joy.

What we didn’t expect, however, was just how poignant and moving We’re Here gets. All three queens experience moments of vulgar homophobia and racism at times, which serves to remind viewers that attitudes towards race and LGBTQ people still vary wildly around the country. Moreover, the stories of family rifts healed through drag performance had us reaching for the tissues. We’re Here reminds us that the great power of the queer community comes from its sense of love and joy, not just fabulousness. The kind of forgiving love on display here is hard to find in any TV series, scripted or reality. That earns a winning recommendation from us. The fabulous handbag RVs are just a bonus.

Streams on HBO Max.