Publishers' Preview: Diversity Five Ways: Five Questions for Gayle E. Pitman

This interview originally appeared in the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Diversity Five Ways, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored by

This book’s narrator has a Maddy: a parent who’s not Mom, not Dad, but everything both and in-between.

1. When do children tend to start asking questions about gender?

Children have a basic understanding of gender as early as eighteen to twenty-four months old, and typically label their own at about three. This is true even for those whose gender identity doesn’t match the gender label they were given at birth. Children might ask questions when they’re confronted with a situation that challenges the gender binary. Answering those questions directly and honestly helps them better understand gender as a spectrum. Children who are gender-creative may have questions at an early age about the reactions others have to them, or about the physical and emotional feelings they’re experiencing.

2. What is your favorite “in-between” space?

Creative space — that time-suspended place between reality and fantasy.

3. How do we help children of nonbinary parents navigate questions from their friends and friends’ parents?

Children should never feel they have to navigate these questions by themselves. Parents who identify as nonbinary (and those who don’t) can open the lines of communication with other parents, teachers, and other adults, and help prepare their children for questions friends might ask. If a friend at their house for a playdate asks a question, that’s a perfect opportunity for a parent to support their child in answering.

4. How might your own childhood have been different if there’d been more picture books about queer identities?

I was a child of the 1970s and 1980s. There were no picture books about queer identities. I can’t even imagine how different it would have been if those had been available.

5. What is your considered opinion of the spork?

I carry a metal spork with me (as well as a metal straw) so I don’t have to use single-use plasticware or straws when I get food on the go. It’s multi-functional and eco-friendly!

Sponsored by

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing