From author Jesús Canchola Sánchez and illustrator Armando Minjárez Monárrez, Pepito Has a Doll is a heart-warming children’s book that can play a role in encouraging queer acceptance.
I was provided a free eARC of Pepito Has a Doll for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
As evident from the title, this book is about a young boy named Pepito and his doll. As someone who is quite shy and keeps to himself at school, Pepito’s very attached to his doll, Lola. For a kid like Pepito, his life is a bit confusing. At home his grandmother allows him to play with Lola and be free to express himself. However, at school, Pepito keeps Lola a secret because he fears the other students will make fun of him.
Every night seven-year-old Pepito prays to find a friend at school and his wish is granted when a new kid, Miguel, shows up. Miguel’s acceptance of Pepito is what helps the titular boy find the courage to be who he really is in front of the other students.
This queer-inclusive story is very close to the author’s heart. From the promotional information provided to us, Sanchez grew up playing with dolls in secret. His family was against it, but his grandmother allowed him to play how he wanted.
“One of my favorite dolls was named Lola,” shared Sanchez, “which is why I named Pepito’s doll with the same name.”
Written in English and Spanish, the bilingual book, Pepito Has a Doll or Pepito Tiene Una Muñeca, is a special thank you from Sanchez to his grandmother for her unconditional love.
Artist Monarrez also grew up playing with dolls. Sanchez met him doing work with undocumented immigrants in Kansas and they became friends.
Due to how dear this book is to the creative duo, I could sense their underlying emotions as I read through this little story. I understood what Pepito felt as he tried to live two lives, wishing to someday be happy at school. I was glad to see Miguel appear and how his friendship with Pepito grew. The entire narrative’s very heartwarming.
Sanchez also wrote this book because he wanted to address the continuing problem of forcing gender stereotypes on kids. I liked how the story ended with Sanchez talking about the world we live in having girls that liked to climb trees and boys who liked to play with dolls. There are also kids who like to do both.
I mean, we’re in 2021, for crying out loud. Let kids play the way they want!
We all know that kids learn how to discriminate and bully from watching or listening to adults. Pepito playing with a doll isn’t normal to the other children because adults taught them that boys shouldn’t play with dolls.
Having spent time with a lot of kids, I know they can be very smart (when they want to be). Some of you might be surprised to realize how quickly kids can understand gender expression and similar stuff that isn’t considered “normal” by society at large.
Being more accepting of others doesn’t “confuse” kids. Bigoted adults just don’t want to go through the effort of having an honest conversation with younglings.
Pepito standing up to his classmates was an important step in encouraging them to accept him for who he was. I’m so proud of him!
Pepito Has a Doll is a good conversation starter if you’re interested in fostering love and acceptance in the small ones you know. It’s also something amazing to have around if you know a kid who is like Pepito and just wants to be understood.
Pepito Has a Doll was released on January 20, 2021. You can buy it from Amazon.
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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