1) A friend (and fellow children's literature academic): "I'm going to buy your Sesame Seade book - it looks great! I'll buy it for myself, of course - the boys [7 and 9 years old] won't want to read it, since it's for girls."
Me: "It's not for girls."
Friend: "It is."
Me: "Seriously, it's not. It's not a girly book at all. It's an adventure story."
Friend: "Well, the cover is pink."
Me: "The cover isn't pink."
Friend: "It is pink."
Me: "It isn't pink."
Me: "Well, look for yourself."
2) An email, or rather ten emails, from teachers, in preparation for school visits:
"I've looked at your books, they look great. I was just wondering if you have an equivalent set of books for boys? Or else the boys might feel left out during the school visit."
3) A friend: "All your books have female main characters."
Friend: "Will you write for boys too one day?"
4) The head of the children's literature department in a national bookstore chain, looking genuinely surprised: "You know what? I've talked to a few parents who told me that their boys really enjoyed the Sesame books!"
5) "He liked it even though he's a boy!"
"He had to admit he really liked it!"
"He even wanted to read the second one!"
"It's funny, he didn't seem to mind that it was a book about a girl."
6) "This book will appeal to girls who like strong heroines."
"This book will delight girls between 7 and 11."
"It's a perfect book for little girls."
7) Acquaintance: "Would you self-define as a feminist?"
Me: "Yes, radically so."
Acquaintance: "Ah. That's why you only write books for girls, I guess."
|One is not born a book for girls, but becomes one.|
Clementine Beauvais attempts to write gender-neutral books in both French and English. The former are of all kinds and shapes for all ages, and the latter a humour/adventure detective series, the Sesame Seade mysteries, with Hodder. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.