A fantasy-inspired story of gender and identity told by trans writer Thom.
Miu Lan can’t decide if they are a “bird or fish,” “cat or rabbit,” “tree or star.” They were born “when both the moon and the sun were in the sky,” so their identity shifts with the games they play and the time of day. In charming, fancifully childlike illustrations pitched to a young audience, readers see the Chinese child swim, fly, prance, and run in different animal guises. Their mother constantly assures them of her love in a song repeated throughout. Of course, when Miu Lan goes to school in “a tail of peacock feathers and a coat of tiger stripes,” their classmates are not so accepting. Exclusion and mild bullying commence as Miu Lan tries to figure out how to fit in, but their mother continues to reassure them, and of course the story ends with full acceptance: “i was a little jealous,” one boy even admits. (The unconventional use of lowercase letters reinforces the sense of Miu Lan’s fluid identity.) The story is somewhat long-winded and predictable, but the traditional arc and themes can resonate with any child who feels excluded (or excludes others) and can also open up conversations about nonbinary gender identities.
A relevant tale of love and acceptance that can find a home in any children’s collection. (Picture book. 3-7)