Captivating, touching, and sincere, “Pansy Boy” tells the story of a thoughtful young boy who is tormented by his classmates because they perceive him as being different. With whimsical, thoughtful rhymes and a mixture of colorful imagery painted against a grayscale canvas, author and illustrator Paul Harfleet shows us how a seed planted by hate can bloom into a garden filled with love. the main characters optimism and hope in the face of ignorance shows the incredible strength of compassion, and after reading, will surely inspire others to go out into the world and cultivate their own spaces of love.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of Harfleet’s art style—the pops of bright colors in a sea of varying shades of gray; the unflattering expressions of the homophobic classmates versus the soft features of the main character. It adds to the depth and thoughtfulness that went into his words, weaving a beautiful narrative within the images themselves. “Pansy Boy” is not simply a story. It is a call for action, a kindling of fires, an offering of hope for those who need a reminder that there is always a way to rise above the hate.

This review was written by Takoma Bookstore Supervisor Melanie Kates

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