The Kids Are All Right

Songs, They/Them Pronouns, And More!

Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! Nashville received 7.6 inches of snow this week, which is one of the biggest snowfalls in my lifetime. I realize that many areas around the world receive a lot more snow, but that’s a big deal here, and everything has pretty much shut down because we don’t have the infrastructure to handle snow. It’s very beautiful, though!

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Today, I review four children’s books with main characters that use they/them pronouns, plus two great picture book releases.

Bookish Goods

They/Them Book Pin by misomomo

They/Them Book Pin by misomomo

This cute pin lets people know your pronouns and that you enjoy reading. $12

New Releases

Cover of Pepper & Me by Beatrice Alemagna

Pepper & Me by Beatrice Alemagna

In this imaginative picture book, a young child falls and gets a big boo-boo on her knee. Her father tells her she’ll get a big scab. At first, she’s disgusted by the scab, but as the days go on, she comes to befriend the scab, talking to it and even naming it Pepper. This is the kind of picture book that seems straight out of a kid’s imagination.

Cover of One Sweet Song by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

One Sweet Song by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

In this rhythmic, rhyming picture book, a block erupts into song as a little girl listens. First one note trills from a flute as a neighbor plays on a balcony, then another note twirls from a violin. More and more neighbors join in playing music on pots, pans, a cello, a ghatam, and more. The vibrant illustrations depict diverse children and adults.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

While still pretty rare, I’m seeing more and more children’s books published with main characters that use they/them pronouns, a very cool development and one I would love to see more of. These four recent children’s books are great examples.

Cover of Katerina Cruickshanks by Daniel Gray-Barnett

Katerina Cruickshanks by Daniel Gray-Barnett

This quirky, rhyming picture book is a blast. Katerina Cruickshanks is a bit of a troublemaker. They’re always making messes, inventing nonsense, and creating chaos where they go. When the neighborhood kids have had enough of Katerina’s antics, they tell Katerina to go home. But when they do, the kids find they miss Katerina’s antics and beg them to come back. This is a good read-aloud to replace a Dr. Seuss book.

The Kid with Big, Big Ideas by Britney Winn Lee, illustrated by Jacob Souva

The Kid with Big, Big Ideas by Britney Winn Lee, illustrated by Jacob Souva

This is the third book in the The Big, Big Series of picture books. Every book features a new child and is written in rhyming verse. This one is about a kid with big ideas who adults often dismiss. When they have a big idea that could help the community, their grandmother listens and helps them implement their idea. I love children’s books that encourage kids to participate in their communities and enact change for the better.

Batcat by Meggie Ramm (TR)

Batcat by Meggie Ramm

This early reader graphic novel is a blast, and I’ve read it many, many times to my six-year-old. Batcat happily lives alone in their treehouse, watching shows and playing video games, but then a ghost turns up and starts haunting their treehouse. The ghost even has the audacity to eat all their snacks! Batcat visits a witch to find out how to rid their treehouse of the ghost. After learning the ingredients for a potion, they set out on a quest to find the ingredients, and in doing so they question whether they’re bat or cat enough. By the end of the quest, their perspective on the ghost has shifted. Book two in this series releases in April, and I can’t wait to read it.

Cover of Just Shy of Ordinary by A.J. Sass

Just Shy of Ordinary by A.J. Sass

I love this middle grade novel about a nonbinary, genderfluid homeschooler, Shai, starting public school for the first time. Shai immediately makes two great friends, but they’re unsure about sharing their pronouns just yet. For a big project for English class, Shai decides to explore their Jewish heritage. While their grandparents are active in the Jewish community, their mother is not for unknown reasons, and they haven’t been raised Jewish. They hope to discover more about their heritage, but this seems to set their mother on edge. Meanwhile, they’re keeping a secret from everyone. When their mother lost her job and the two moved in with Indigenous friends, Shai began picking at their arms. They wear arm sleeves designed by their best friend to cover the marks, but they haven’t even told him the truth.

Snowy day, backyard

Obligatory snowy day picture! We bought a sled right before the snow came, and my spouse is pulling our daughter along in the snow in our backyard. We practiced with the sled in the grass before this, so even though we only get about a week’s worth of snow a year, I think we’ll end up using the sled more often than that!

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, Bluesky, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

All the best,

Margaret Kingsbury