Allen & Unwin Australia
Imprint: Bloomsbury Child
Pub Date: June 2016
This is a really lovely, though unexpected story. Errol and his teddy Thomas are the very best of friends who do many fun everyday things together – riding bikes, eating sandwiches in their tree-house or having tea parties.
One day Errol notices that Thomas seems sad and of course, being his best friend, tries to cheer him up. An outing to the park and playing on the swings doesn’t seem to make any difference. So gently Errol tries to find out what’s wrong and is completely unfazed when Thomas reveals that he’s not really a boy bear. In fact, he’s never felt like a boy bear but knows he’s actually a girl bear who wants to be called Tilly.
Well of course, Errol being the wonderful friend that he is completely accepts this and as simply as that Thomas becomes Tilly. And one of the first things they do is invite their friend Ava and the robot she has just built to a tea party where they all have just the same lovely time they have always enjoyed.
This story arises from a very personal viewpoint. Jessica Walton’s father similarly transitioned into the woman he always felt he was and she wanted to be able to explain this to her son in an accessible way. And without doubt she has succeeded.
For those of you who are looking for books to build a collection that embraces diversity this would be an admirable addition. It is in no way difficult or confronting, but rather a beautiful story about friendship and accepting differences in our friends.
“A ground-breaking children’s book about gender identity and friendship”.
Highly recommended for any readers from around five and up and for all school libraries.