Introducing Teddy: A story about being yourself by Jessica Walton

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Ill. by Dougal MacPherson. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781681192116
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Diversity. Gender identity. Young Errol's life is filled with enjoyment, together with his best friend Thomas the teddy, they ride their bike, plant vegetables and share lunch in the tree house. One sunny day Errol wakes up ready for another play-filled day. Thomas, however, is feeling very sad, and even swinging at the park doesn't help.
Errol and his teddy, Thomas, are best friends who do everything together. Whether it's riding a bike, playing in the tree house, having a tea party, every day is enjoyable. The mood changes when the teddy gathers enough courage to share his deepest feelings. 'In my heart, I've always known that I'm a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.' Errol's heartwarming response is one of acceptance, he just wants his teddy to continue to share playtimes together and continue to be his best friend.
Author Jessica Walton's easy to read narrative was written from her personal family experiences. Her father transitioned into becoming Tina, and she saw the need of writing a story to help her young son develop an understanding of gender identity and the process of transitioning. Dougal MacPherson's ink-and-watercolour illustrations are emotionally engaging, the stark grey playground asphalt adds to the mood of the story. The teddy's transformation cleverly drawn with the bow-tie transitioning into a hair bow. Light and shade, the important use of white space, background washes of blue and yellow draw the eye to focus on the engaging Errol, Thomas/Tilly and their friend Ava at play.
Accepting diversity and gender identity are the key messages in Introducing Teddy.
Rhyllis Bignell
Editor's note: There is a Friendship Activity pack available.