Perceived gender traits are the inspiration for a thought-provoking, moving and touching exploration of what it means to live life as a boy in Blake Nuto’s debut picture book.
If you’re a boy you might be told to roar like the oceans, to stand sure and tall like the mountains and to move confidently and with purpose like the swift-sweeping river. But does being those things really make you a boy? What if you admired the flowers and saw the beauty in colour, found comfort in music and solace in silence? What if you embraced the shield of slowly, the lightness of kindness and the strength of content? When you’re a boy you can be and feel anything…
Delivered in sparse yet powerful words and with page after page of beautiful artwork, When You’re a Boy is special book. On a glorious stroll through meadows, across rivers and up mountains, gender stereotypes are gently unpicked as a wise parent shares the ways of the world with their son.
Breaking down stereotypes and reaffirming to children that there are many ways to live and identify within their gender is important. Boys who don’t identify as roaring seas, as chastening winds or as imposing mountains will feel seen and recognised within these pages as Blake champions just some of the other things that boys can be and feel.
Deemed boy qualities that begin with the repetitive refrain ‘When you’re a boy you are told how to be’ are challenged by the words that come next. The white-roaring oceans, the swift-sweeping rivers and the sure-standing mountains are countered with dancing, daydreaming, happiness, patience and sorry. And it is these latter words that will resonate most and leave parents and children with that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
Full of emotional intelligence, Blake’s journey through nature is a richly rewarding reading experience for those that want an accessible, empathetic and life-affirming hike into the deep and meaningful. Young readers are sure to enjoy the adventure into the great outdoors but to really navigate and understand this exquisite life lesson in not letting a gender label define who you are or how you act adult support is essential. Lovely for families to share, to ponder over and to reflect on together.
Recommended for 5+.
With huge thanks to Affirm Press for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.