author q&a

Author Q&A with Kerri M Mullen.

Hi all, today I am going to be doing my first q&a with an author on my blog. I am so excited. I was contacted by a kind person on Twitter who connected me with Kerri. A huge thank you to Kerri for sharing a copy of her book with me. And taking time out of her hectic life to answer my questions!

You can find her on Twitter.

Kerri has written a book for the preschool – Kindergarten age about a trans boy. She has written the story about a little boy named Eli who is FTM. Here is an article about her book.

Really quick about me and why I was asked to read this book: I use they/them pronouns. I am nonbinary. If you want to know what that means, look it up. Or send me an email to stormereadsalot at gmail dot com. Although I am not trans, I have had my own experience with gender and how it can be kind of ridiculous at times. Gender is a social construct, and I think the way people act about it is very silly.

This is also a relevant book to me because I have an 18 month old kiddo, and I want E to be open and accepting of all.

Anyway.

Here is some more information about the book and the cover:

Synposis:

This is a gentle story about gender identity and self-expression. When Chloe leaves for school one morning, she leaves her three favorite dolls having tea. The dolls come alive, and one doll shares that they don’t feel comfortable in their puffy pink dress and sparkly shoes. The other dolls help them find more comfortable clothing in the toy bin, while discussing how being a true friend is about supporting and accepting others. It is an inspiring story about being your authentic self, kindness, and friendship.

My q&a with the author:

Did you know you would write a childrens book when you started out or did you consider writing for higher age levels as well?

I specifically set out to create a book that was appropriate for pre-K and early elementary aged children because I had such a difficult time finding a picture book with a female-to-male character. I was specifically looking for such a book  for a couple of reasons: 1) I wanted my son to read about a character like him, and 2) I wanted his teachers and other parents to have a literary tool that could be used to facilitate conversations about gender identity so that others could better understand my son’s transition when he was 4-5 years old. 

What was the best part about writing this book? What was the worst part?

The best part about writing the book, besides the very exciting unboxing of the finished product, was receiving the illustrations as they were completed. It was magical watching the characters come to life a few pages at a time over the course of many, many months. The worst, or most challenging, part was the waiting. I wasn’t prepared for how long it takes to self-publish a book. I was asked to give feedback at every step pf the way, but each time I had comments or suggestions, I would sometimes wait months for them to be incorporated. In the end, with covid adding to the pressures on publishers, printers, and shipping, the publication date and availability was delayed nearly a year. 

What made you decide to personify dolls to utilize the storytelling about a trans child? 

I developed the main characters as dolls because I wanted to create a story that was non-threatening to parents and teachers, but also highly relatable to children and not too abstract. In my experience working in a book store and also in my review of the literature regarding early literacy education, parents and teachers are often hesitant to discuss LGBTQ+ topics with young children because of the preconceived notion that the discussion revolves around sex and/or sexuality. There are certainly age-appropriate way to approach LGBTQ+ topics, and I hope that my book is easy-to-read and incorporate into these classroom and home discussions.

 Do you think having positive trans rep in a childrens book will help continue to allow more books like this to be written?


Yes! I certainly hope so. Since I started writing my own book several years ago, the availability of children’s books featuring transgender and non-binary characters has grown. My hope is that the more books featuring diverse characters there are, the more people learn about and accept gender diversity and creativity, which will become increasingly normalized. 

Would you write more books on this subject for higher age levels?

Absolutely. Working in a book store, I see a lot of middle grade chapter books, graphic novels, and YA novels that feature more diverse characters, especially Black and Brown LGBTQ+ characters. I don’t see quite as many early chapter books with diverse characters, so I think there is an opportunity here.  

Do you have a favorite line in the story?

My favorite part of the story is when the dolls agree” that it’s not a person’s clothing or hair that are important, but instead, a more important thing is how a person makes others feel.” It’s so simple, yet so important for children (and often adults) to understand this about relationships.  

What message do you want children and parents to take away from  this story?

I hope the book gives readers, children and parents alike, the message that being a true friend is accepting others’ differences, and that each person should feel supported and loved enough to be one’s authentic and happy self. I hope that parents and teachers will be able to share this book with young children to facilitate conversations about differences in self-expression and accepting others.

Once again, a huge thank you to Kerri. If you want to pick up a copy of this book for the little one in your life, please do so here.

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