Why These Children's Books Are Rated A Solid 5 Out Of 5
The New Goldilocks And The Three Bears; For LGBT Families
I recently discovered a wonderful new version of the traditional children's story "Goldilocks And the Three Bears" written by—San Francisco Bay Area's own—author and illustrator Beth McMurray. My first impression when handling this fourteen page book was that it had much more to offer than the average children's book. I spoke with Beth late in October, to find an individual who is inspired to support and respect the placing of LGBT families front and center within her writings. Beth was kind enough to grant me an interview to learn a little about her, her process, and of course those adorable illustrations! First, let's take a look at why Beth's books get a solid 5 out of 5 stars on my ratings scale.
Below, you can read how the conversation between Beth and myself evolved.
The New Goldielocks And The Three Bears For LGBT Families
Exposing Children To Literary Diversity Makes Happy Healthy Accepting Adults
A New And Refreshing Children's Book
This wonderfully fresh version of the traditional Goldilocks story is a fantastic bedtime read for any family. Each of the bear families are presented in single gender pairings, we simply know the parents that head the family are either two women or two men—Mamma Bear and Mommy Bear, or Papa Bear and Daddy Bear. The value of this is not lost on me when I think about a child who feels his/her family is different from other families on the block. When a child sees their family dynamic placed front and center in a traditional-style children's story it tells them confidently that being different is not bad!
Acceptance Or Compromise
Gaining an understanding that diversity is what makes the world "happily go 'round," is what this story is all about! A subtle, yet meaningful lesson for children living out all types of family dynamics. The story does not ask for acceptance or compromise for how these characters live. It simply allows the family to be who they are; and it is a beautiful and loving offering, to say the least.
Children's Book Illustrations
One of the fantastic things I noticed in Beth's artwork—and there is plenty to notice— is how child friendly the illustrations remained, while being sophisticated and in-depth enough for all ages to appreciate. The book's illustrations help tell the refreshed story of "Mama Bear, Mommy Bear & Baby Bear" or "Papa Bear, Daddy Bear & Baby Bear" in crisp cartoonish form; but what intrigued me most of all about each page was how the pictures told a story behind the actual story itself!
Goldilocks Finds The Three Bear's House
Illustrations That Tell More
Another clever and delightful measure of Beth's illustrations has to do with a tree trunk climbing squirrel, magnetic refrigerator letters, stitched thigh pockets and teddy bear superhero action figures that lurk quite humorously in the backdrop of the story. For me, these little added touches bring an opportunity for family bonding. A new game of, "what else do you see in the picture" is sure to bring more fun during story time. Alluring as they are practical, I found enjoyment page after cute cuddly page.
Thoughtful Font Style And Size
The text's font style and size make the story very easy to read, even for those of us who are reading to our grandchildren. The layout of the type is generous enough to offer the story in an interesting manner, while still remaining moderate enough to avoid overwhelming new readers. The print is crisp and gives a quality feel to these paperback children's books. I find both of these attributes to be thoughtful and gracious additions to an already gifted story.
Resources For LGBTQ Families
- Welcoming Schools - A project from the Human Rights Foundation.
- We Have Faith - LGBT clergy and people of faith speak out.
- The Center - LGBT Center advocates at state and local levels for the rights of alternative families (based in NY).
- Family Equality Council - Find information and events for LGBT parents, children, family, and friends.
What I Don't Like About The Book
I expected to begin by saying that because the book is published by a tiny economical and independent publisher the quality of the materials was lacking; but this isn't so. A nice durable coating exists on the cover jacket, and is pretty tough to rip (I'll admit it, I gave it a pretty good tug). In all honesty, I adore these books from cover to cover. However, I did manage to find two little things that I felt could be improved upon;
- There are blank pages at the end of the story that seem wasted. I enjoyed the illustrations so much, I wish some bonus images would have been provided.
- I don't find a place where I can purchase a set of those brave Teddy Bear Super Hero action figures we find in the book! I jest of course. (But, if we're lucky, creating real versions of these "Super Teddies" will be Beth's next venture—I know I'm keeping my fingers crossed!)
Author Beth McMurray says, "Some talking bears are gay, and that’s okay."
An Interview With Children's Book Author Beth McMurray
K9keystrokes: First, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about you and your books, Beth. Let's get right to it, shall we? So, how long have you been writing?
Beth: "I started writing early on. In first grade I created “picture books,” complete with stick figures and misspelled words."
K9keystrokes: What would you like your readers to know about you? Since I live in the Golden State, I was also wondering how long you have lived here as well?
Beth: "I’m 32, born and raised in California. It’s a place that’s hard to leave! I currently live in a suburb of San Francisco . I'm spoiled here because I have the ocean, mountains, a great library system, and everything I could possibly want to eat, all in the vicinity."
Other Children's Books By Beth McMaurray
K9keystrokes: Are these your first published children's books? If not what are some of the others (or future endeavors)?
Beth: "Other books I’ve written include "Bippy the Hungry Alien" and "The Kitten That Forgot Meow." I am currently working on a new children’s book with lesbian parents. I wish I could share the name of the book, but I don’t know what it is yet!
(If anyone is interested in knowing when the next book is published, they can sign up for Future Book Announcements on the website NewGoldilocks.com.)"
A Variety Of LGBT Family Children's Books
- Children's Books About LGBT Parents
With up to 14 million children being raised by LGBT families in the USA today, utilizing children's Books About LGBT Parents just makes good sense! When children see themselves in literary storylines, it creates a sense of belonging.
K9keystrokes: Is there a particular reason you chose the Goldilocks storyline to convert to a LGBT friendly tale?
Beth: "One evening my girlfriend said to me, “You ought to write children’s books with LGBT characters.” It was an “Aha!” moment for me and also a “Duh...why I haven’t been doing that all along?” Suddenly a new energy emerged for me. It was almost like a “coming out” for my writing process."
"I really liked the idea of converting a classic story into an LGBT friendly tale. LGBT relationships have been around longer than Goldilocks, so why not a Goldilocks version with an LGBT relationship? I like that with Goldilocks, because it is such a well-known story, that my retelling stays just that—a story. And the parents in the story just happen to be LGBT."
Beth Shares Some Of The Three Bear's Artwork, which utilized "lots of erasers!"
Free Three Bear Coloring Pages By Beth McMurray
Find the original art created by Beth in color-free printable pages! FREE Mamma, Mommy & Baby Bear / Papa, Daddy & Baby Bear Coloring Pages:
K9keystrokes: It isn't very often we run upon an author who also does their own illustrations. Does this provide you with more control over your books, or is more about the artist inside you?
Beth: "This was the first time I did my own illustrations. It was a challenging and fun experience. Admittedly, it was perhaps a selfish decision. I had a lot of passion for this project and in some ways felt like I was creating this book for my own inner child. Growing up, I wish I had read stories that had normalized being LGBT. I hope this book does that. Some talking bears are gay, and that’s okay. I realize the primary market for The New Goldilocks is families with same-sex parents, but my fantasy is that all kids, regardless of their family structure, will read some books with LGBT characters. Just as all kids, regardless of their family structure, will read some books with non-LGBT characters."
K9keystrokes: I also love your illustrations. Can you walk us through the process—style, method, and vision—for creating such adorable characters?
Beth: "Thank you for your kind words! I started by drawing rough sketches of the characters by hand (using pencil and lots of erasers) and then scanned them into the computer. Then I traced and colored them digitally."
"All along the way, I kept reminding myself that drawings don’t need to look like real life. I looked at many of my favorite children’s books and noticed the eyes were dots. As I was working on The New Goldilocks, a great friend of mine pointed out that Hello Kitty, an internationally popular character, has a simplistic face with dots for the eyes (and not even a visible mouth!). That’s not to say I don’t admire complex representations of eyes and faces, but I knew that wouldn’t be my style."
K9keystrokes: You publish with Ink Sprout Press, can you tell us a little about them and your publishing process?
Beth: "Ink Sprout Press is a tiny, independent publisher considered a labor of love. They take advantage of print-on-demand technology so books can be printed in small runs to reduce the risk of spending a lot of money upfront on large quantities of printed books."
K9keystrokes: I see your books are offered on Amazon, do you sell your works any place else? If so, where can we find them?
Beth: "Amazon is the best bet, but The New Goldilocks books are also available through Baker & Taylor for libraries and academic institutions. Thanks so much for the opportunity to share a little bit about The New Goldilocks!"
What You Think Really Does Matter!
K9keystrokes: Thanks, Beth! It was my honor to get to spend a little time with such a dedicated author. I am so grateful you could fit me into your schedule. I am really looking forward to seeing how amazed LGBTQ families find The New Goldilocks story line. I am betting this is going to make a great gift idea for anyone who has kids!
Closing The Book On The New Goldilocks
With up to 14 million children being raised by LGBT families in the USA today, utilizing children's Books About LGBT Parents just makes good sense! Beth McMurray has given us a rendition to be proud of. Her gentle unassuming storyline brings to light the diversity of today's family, while gracefully showing us that we are all in this together. Children will adore this book for the story itself, but may just get lost in the illustrated world Beth has created behind that story. The New Goldilocks And The Three Bears is one old fashion story that spins into our modern times with subtle grace and awareness. Thank you Beth McMurray for sharing your delightful vision.
LGBT PArents; The True Stories As Told By The Kids
Comments "The New Goldilocks And The Three Bears, Children's Books For LGBT Parents"
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 27, 2018:
Your point is strong. Keep in mind, that modifications are probable. My thinking is possibly the players can be switched around to accomidate parental subject matters.
Thanks so much for stopping by! I adore you and your writting lizzy.
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 15, 2012:
@stephhicks68~ Beth McMurray, the author of the books reviewed here, is a very sweet and interesting lady; who really does a good job supporting her LGBTQ community. Your comments made my day, and your approval of the piece means the world to me. Thank you for giving it high marks and for taking time from your very busy day to stop by. I appreciate your loyalty, Steph!
Big HubHugs, my friend~
@lanablackmoor~ I agree, the illustrations in the books are really fun. Kids are simply going to fall in love with these charming little bears. I am glad to hear that you will be buying the books for your kids. And you are right, it is very important to teach with inclusive materials that depict all lifestyles and family types. Thank you for leaving your thoughts on the topic.
lanablackmoor from New England on November 14, 2012:
Thanks for the great review! I really love the art style, it's so playful and bright. I think I'll purchase these for my kids some day! :) There aren't enough inclusive children's storybooks around, so it's good to know that the few that exist are of high quality.
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on November 14, 2012:
Fantastic review and interview! Love the illustrations and, especially, the background of how the author came to write an LBTG version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Hope she keeps up the excellent work. Very well done!
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 14, 2012:
Beth McMurray~ What a real treat to have the actual author of the book reviewed here leave her comments about the article! I am so honored that you found the time in your busy day to make it by, Beth. I will keep my eyes open for those super hero teddy bears! Hopefully coming to store near me soon! ;) Can't wait to read your next children's book! Thanks for everything you do for our LGBTQ community.
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 14, 2012:
Mhatter99~ Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comments.
Beth McMurray on November 13, 2012:
Thank you for such a thoughtful review. It was fun to talk with you about The New Goldilocks. I'm glad you enjoyed the books and hope others will too. Also, thank you for your ongoing hard work on this blog, which is an invaluable resource in supporting and celebrating the LGBT community. I'll see what I can do about getting you a Super Hero Teddy Bear Action Figure...you most certainly deserve one!
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on November 13, 2012:
Good review and inter view. Thank you.