Sparkle Boy

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Sparkle Boy Book Poster Image
Strong family, acceptance rule in sweet stereotype-buster.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The kids' grandmother is called "Abuelita" (grandma in Spanish). Kids and adults are shown reading and going to the library.

Positive Messages

Love, acceptance, and family are a lot more important than stereotypes. Having the freedom to be yourself is important.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Casey and Jessie's parents and grandmother are encouraging and drama-free in supporting their kids and giving them a strong, loving foundation, whether or not the kids behave stereotypically.  Big sister Jessie has a lot to think about and puts that good foundation to use.

Violence & Scariness
Language

Older kids tell Casey he looks "weird," and Jessie says he looks "silly."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sparkle Boy, by Lesléa Newman (Heather Has Two Mommies), features a 3-year-old boy who loves all the glittery stuff his older sister loves, and causes a stir when he goes out in his "girly" finery. Stereotypes and peer pressure prove to be no match for love, family, and acceptance in this warm tale.

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What's the story?

Like younger siblings everywhere, 3-year-old Casey, soon to be known as SPARKLE BOY, falls hard for the cool things his older sister Jessie likes -- and shimmery skirts, glittery nail polish, and sparkly bracelets are no exception. Their parents and grandmother are cool with it, but Jessie's not so sure -- that stuff is only for girls, right? When Casey wants to wear all the shiny stuff to the library, their mom says he looks like Casey. Jessie says he looks silly. But when the older kids at the library say he can't be a boy and dress that way, she's suddenly not so sure about that either.

Is it any good?

Skillfully avoiding drama, hysteria, and preachiness, Lesléa Newman delivers a sweet, level-headed story steeped in love and family values about a 3-year-old boy obsessed with all things glittery. Peer pressure, gender stereotypes, and a lot of relatable sibling dynamics all play a role here. Supportive adults really shine, but kids, especially big sis Jessie, have to think for themselves and make their own choices. Illustrator Maria Mola brings the characters to life with lots of color, and facial expressions that add a lot to the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how stereotypes are presented in Sparkle Boy. Have you ever been told you couldn't do something because it was only for people in a group you didn't belong to? How did you feel about that?

  • Have you ever been told something you liked to do was "weird," and done it anyway? What happened?

  • Do you think it's OK for kids to give someone a hard time because they don't like the way he or she looks or dresses?

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