Peanut Goes for Gold – Jonathan Van Ness. Pictures by Gillian Reid


Harper Collins Australia

May 2020

  • ISBN: 9780062941008
  • ISBN 10: 0062941003
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – US
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

It has been very reassuring in recent years to be able to review a number of picture books which embrace diversity in children but particularly those who may be struggling or feeling isolated due to their gender/sexual self-identity.

There would be few educators who have not had students in this position and while other children seem to be able to embrace these differences with great equanimity, it seems that adults have been slow to catch up.

This is the first picture book I can recall that has a character of non-binary gender (though not the first book for young people) – so kudos to Jonathan for this empowering book for little people.

Peanut is a charming and exuberant gender non-binary guinea pig who loves to twirl, leap, cartwheel and bounce. Peanut has their own way of doing things and even though sometimes their friends think having a pancake stack for a birthday cake or cutting their own hair while hula-hooping is a little weird all the chums love their friend.

When Peanut decides their dream is to aim high and enter the National Junior Gymnastics Championship in the rhythmic gymnast category, family and friends all pitch in to help young Peanut achieve their goal – with music, costume, choreography and support. Will Peanut be able to reach the pinnacle of their desire? All depends on whether one tiny oversight becomes a catastrophe or merely a hiccup.

Peanut’s enthusiastic and engaging character is perfectly captured in the vibrant illustrations which are so full of life and joy.

Jonathan van Ness has brought his on-screen style of humour and positivity to this charming book which will readily find an audience with all children, no matter their self-identity. What a wonderful step forward to encouraging all our kiddos to ‘to not just be themselves – but to boldly and unapologetically love being themselves’.

Highly recommended for young readers from around four years upwards.

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