I have to tell you this right off the start, I almost chose NOT to review Be Amazing: A history of pride. Why? Because as a believer I do not believe in promoting what God calls a sinful lifestyle. Why did I in the end choose to do so? Because like it or not, agree with the lifestyle or not, as much as I dislike little boys dressing up in drag, the pride movement is part of our history. Having this history tactfully told is also important. Too often tact is not a part of history from EITHER side of the equation.
Do note: I do not dislike or hate drag queens, drag kids, or drag youth. I hate the sin and brokenness that is behind it. I can dislike an aspect of something without disliking the whole being surrounding it. Just like my tenant and I don’t agree on everything and still manage to get along just fine. 🙂
I do have concerns, and I’ll mention them later on in this review, but overall, Be Amazing in and of itself is not a bad book. It tells of a part of history which for about 10% of our population is filled with pain. Should that story not be tactfully told? This story is only about a very specific part of PRIDE history, the drag queen movement.
What I am Reviewing
From the cover of Be Amazing: A History of Pride:
In Be Amazing , drag kid Desmond is Amazing walks you through the history of the LGBTQ community, all while encouraging you to embrace your own uniqueness and ignore the haters. …. Throughout history, courageous people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and RuPaul have paved the way for a safer, more inclusive society for LGBTQ individuals, and it’s thanks to them that people just like Desmond can be free to be who they really are.
Produced by Farrar Straus & Giroux, a 40 page, Dylan Glynn filled the pages with colourful, provocative images, designed to make you think and see the beauty that is in the Drag Queen world. Author is Desmond the Amazing, a 12-year-old drag kid. He is an outspoken gay boy, runway model and public speaker. He founded Haus of Amazing, a drag house for kids.
I disagree with the geared age range being preschool to grade 1. Honestly, do littles need to know the history of drag queens? I don’t understand the reasoning for them to know such history.
There is much beauty to be found within the pages. There is also some painfilled history. The end premise is … be the amazing person that you are and don’t let people destroy that.
I am reviewing Be Amazing on behalf of Raincoast Books.
The Details for Be Amazing
40 pages of bright, colourful images where appropriate. Some parts of history are difficult and darker images filled those pages. But overall, a bright palette filled the pages.
The text is mostly normal sized, encouraging you to sit and read one-on-one rather than to a group of children. Occasionally the text will be larger, but that’s the exception not the rule.
Along the way you will meet some of the famous drag queens of history. First you’ll learn about the Stonewall Riots, then Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera as well as others. The Christopher Street Liberation Day March which started the Gay Pride Marches. Some individuals are only mentioned in pictures, others you learn more of their story.
At the end of the book a question is asked “what makes you amazing?” What would your answer be?
I don’t know if I would be comfortable letting an elementary-age child read this book on their own, but using it in middle school or high school as a precursor to a history unit? Or as part of a logic/debate course? I would definitely give it a thought.
Why the difference in age? Older children can often see the bigger picture more easily and generally aren’t as quick to be fooled by agendas. Can they be? For sure, anyone can be fooled by an agenda. But learning history and separating it from the agenda is more easily taught when students are older and better able to reason.
This picture book, Be Amazing: A history of pride, tells the story of drag queens and how it ties into the PRIDE movement. Tactfully addressing the pain, loss, determination, and what they hope the future will be like.