‘Twas the Night Before Pride

Authored by Joanna McClintick
Illustrated by Juana Medina
Published by Walker Books

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Told from the perspective of a young child in a loving queer family, this picture book describes the excitement of getting ready for the annual Pride parade. There is a new baby in the family and the older child (there are no names given) reminisces about previous parades, the costumes, the music, the colours and the celebration of gay life and relationships. Importantly the story finds space to cover one of the key moments in the development of the Gay Liberation Movement when the Stonewall restaurant was raided by police in 1969, leading to immediate protests and fightback by the gay community and the organising of the first Gay Pride marches. The story emphasises that Pride is about ‘rights for queers and our beautiful genders’ and that oppression should be resisted.

The illustrations are clear, colourful and show positive images of a happy family, as well as moments from marches past and present. I particularly like the final double-page spread which is packed full of a great diversity of queer people and families all enjoying a day out on the streets celebrating love. The story is told in rhyme, which keeps the narrative flowing well, though there are some clunky moments where the line doesn’t scan and the rhyming seems arbitrary.

Whilst the illustrations suggest the book is for young children, the issues which arise about the struggle against oppression and for equal rights would seem to be relevant for sensitive sharing and discussion with older children, both primary and early secondary. To support such a sensitive discussion an additional double-page spread at the end of the book giving further information about Stonewall and the history of the Gay Liberation Movement and its successes, including a few photographs, would, I feel, be helpful to educators.

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