Book Reviews

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Transgender Identities: review! // simple, informative, beautifully illustrated

Hi, friends! How are you doing today? I picked up this short comic about (you guessed it!) queer and transgender experiences! I had actually been meaning to check it out for a while, but would you look at that THIS BOOK IS OUT TODAY!!! HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, LITTLE ONE 🎂🎉

a quick and easy guide to queer and transgender identitiesTitle: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Transgender Identities
Author: Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg
Genre: comic, nonfiction
Published on April 23rd, 2019 by Limerence Press
Page count: 102 pages
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

s y n o p s i s

In this short comic, Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg put to paper the basis of being queer and transgender. They explore different experiences, both in terms of sexual orientation and in terms of gender identity. Their goal is well-defined and noble: to teach cisgender and heterosexual people that there are other ways of existing — equally as valid and worth knowing about. Ultimately, it is a guide to becoming a good ally.

Goodreads  🏳️‍🌈  Book Depository  🏳️‍🌈  Amazon

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Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. All opinions are my own. Also, as an unfinished copy, the illustrations and even the writing might have changed in relation to the copy you can find for sale in stores and online.

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I was expecting to really, really love this comic book. Unfortunately, I ended up being a little disappointed, but I would still recommend it to my friends and to you, my lovely followers! If you want to expand on your knowledge of queer and trans experiences, this book is definitely for you.

One of the first things that drew me to this book was the cover. I mean… look at it!!! Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? I love the illustrations of the cute little snail on the mushroom and the flowers around them… So, knowing this was a comic, I was expecting to find equally as gorgeous illustrations inside. And I did! The art is absolutely adorable and visually stunning. We have snails, forests, humans, and mythical creatures in the book and they are all so beautifully portrayed! Seeing these illustrations made me think of a fairy tale…

The color palette used is also beautiful. There are two colors that are mainly used throughout the comic: pink and blue. While I did find it odd that the authors were choosing to go with this scheme, I do think that it worked to a point. All the pages could very well be framed and hanged in a child’s room and they would not look out of place at all.

On the other hand, since we’re speaking of color schemes, I do wish the comic had been more colorful… The LGBTQ+ colors are usually those of the rainbow, right? And in the book, they even mention that these people (queer and trans teens) are super colorful and bright and vivid. But yet we don’t see any other colors except hues of pink, blue, and yellow. I felt like the illustrators could have used this as a chance to really go crazy on the colors and visually show just how colorful the queer world is!

Note: I have a feeling the finished copy will be much more colorful than the one I got was… So keep this in mind and know that it did not, in any way, ruin my reading experience of this book!

The main focus of the book is also one I appreciate immensely. The way the author put into words the queer identities is super accessible and easy to digest. Any readers who have never had any contact with the LGBTQ+ world would still be in great hands reading this book. I mean, I was super impressed with how clearly Mady G and Zuckerberg explained the issues discussed in the book. There were no foreign concepts going unexplained and no assumptions that you, the reader, know key facts about the LGBT community. This, for someone starting out to learn about trans and queer experiences (or even someone at the start of their discovery path!!!), is extremely valuable and I feel like it can’t be praised enough. Great job, writers!!!

Another cute little aspect I thought was well done was the structure of the book. This comic is split into several chapters:

  • What Is Queer?
  • What Is Gender Identity?
  • Now… What’s Gender Expression?
  • What Does Dysphoria Mean?
  • So, What Is Asexuality?
  • Here Are Some Relationship Basics
  • What Does It Mean to Come Out?

As you can see, they chose to separate each issue into its own chapter, which I thought was a great decision. In my opinion, it doesn’t burden the reader with a lot of information at once and it gives them time to process everything that was explained in a chapter before moving on to the next one. Kids, especially, will benefit greatly from how this is set up! 

At the end of the book, the authors have put together a little surprise for the (young) reader. This bonus content teaches kids how to create zines where they can write down whatever message they would like other people to know about, it lets them write down their own thoughts about the book (such as notes), and it gives them the freedom to create an imagined persona based on some illustrations that come in the book! Isn’t this super neat???

Now, you might be asking this dumb blog of mine: “If you liked all these things, why did you only rate this three stars????” To be honest, I want to give it an extra half star, for how important and valuable this #ownvoices contribution is to the discussion on gender and sexuality. But I also want to be completely transparent and point out one small thing that made me knock a few stars down.

When reading this comic, I was super confused as to what age group this is aimed at. While the cover and synopsis say that it’s a “great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life,” I don’t fully agree. I think the main fault of this book is that its audience is too vague… I appreciate the effort the authors put into creating an inclusive and accessible book, but I think they might have been more successful had they restricted the audience to just middle graders.

On one hand, the metaphors and the analogies the authors use to get their point across (about every single issue discussed in the comic) are perfect for young children (pre-teens and younger). They use these fantastic made-up characters—the sproutlings—who are embodiments of these children who are curious about their sexuality and identity. It’s a clever strategy that ensures children understand the points being made.

But at the same time, those same devices are just too young for an older (even teen!) reader. I hate judging how “young” some books sound, but this one, since it aims to also be read and loved by adults, I think deserves the criticism.

On the other hand, the language used could be somewhat of a challenge to young readers. Now, I am not a mother nor do I have siblings that are in their preteen years. But, from what I remember from my experience and that of my brothers, young children can face a challenge of understanding what’s written. I found some words and sentence structures (not to mention some concepts) a little too complex for young readers. Since they don’t have a lot of experience with gender identity, sexuality, and intercourse (at least I hope they don’t…) some chapters could be just going over their heads, which is a shame.

But I do want to point out that the lessons the authors teach are incredibly valuable, especially for young kids. There’s a chapter I really loved about healthy relationships, and that is one issue I will be teaching my kids from a young age when I have them. It covered not only romantic relationships but also friendships! I also adored how throughout all chapters there were hints and notes left for readers on how to act around queer and trans people. It shows readers how to be supportive friends and allies to their trans and queer peers, what not to ask, and what not to do. This is so, so important and it was done brilliantly!

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I recommend this book to…

Anyone who wants to start learning about queer and transgender lives and identities! Reading this book with a child would be a lovely idea, I believe.

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And that was my review! All in all, I really loved the concept of this comic — as well as the stunning illustrations! Have you read it? Will you pick it up?

Love,
Rita

4 thoughts on “A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Transgender Identities: review! // simple, informative, beautifully illustrated

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