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AUNTIE UNCLE by Ellie Royce


Drag Queen Hero

by Ellie Royce ; illustrated by Hannah Chambers

Pub Date: May 19th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-57687-935-1
Publisher: POW!

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Meet Uncle Leo/Auntie Lotta, who, the narrator informs readers, is an office worker by day and a drag performer by night. When Lotta saves an errant puppy at a local Pride parade, the mayor wants to honor her with an award. But who will accept it: Leo or Lotta? Leo/Lotta is written with a rigidly binary personality. Readers learn that Leo is good at math; Lotta loves to sing and dance. The social circles of work and play are kept distinctly separate. Although the personas combine into “Auntie Uncle” in the final pages, the passive stereotyping of the character is strong. In Chambers’ bland cartoons, Leo is depicted as a white man in a brown, tweed sport coat, tie, and trousers while the be-wigged Lotta is drawn in flamboyant outfits that range in color. Although the characters combine at the end, wigless and wearing earrings, a brown coat and trousers, and a diaphanous overskirt, the roles are still separate, although now they are tripartite: “I love my Uncle Leo. He still checks my numbers. I love Auntie Lotta. She still sings and dances with me. But I think maybe I love my Auntie Uncle the best of all.” The world needs more stories about drag queens, but it also needs stories where the moral isn’t to compartmentalize their lives or their personalities.

Sashay away.

(Picture book. 6-10)