Review Detail

Kids Nonfiction 108
Picture Book Biography of LGBTQ Icon
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
This paperback reissue of the 2002 original introduces this classic biography of an influential LGBTQIA+ pioneer to young readers. Milk, born in 1930, inhabited a very different world. Born to a Jewish family in New York, he played sports and was a charismatic young man who had to hide the reality of his identity because of the social mores of the time. He eventually moved with his partner to San Francisco, and set up a camera shop in the Castro, a largely gay community. Things were changing in society enough that he was able to try to help fight the oppression and problems that the gay community was facing. He ran for office and had broad support, but didn't win his first few elections. Sadly, after being elected and serving as a force for change, he was assassinated by an angry political rival in 1978. While treatment of the LGBTQIA+ community has changed in the last forty years, there are still enough challenges that it is important to highlight individuals like Milk and the experiences they had.
Good Points
The illustrations have a sunny, chalk pastel quality to them that is very much of its time but also has a classic feel. Gardner does a particularly good job at portraying place, and the building in San Francisco are well rendered. The styles of the times come through clearly, and I especially appreciated the sepia tones used for Milk's 1930s baby picture. There are not photographs, but those are easy enough to find online.

The epilogue and author's notes on the text will help younger readers put Milk's life into a historical perspective. The book is short enough to make a good read aloud; not all picture book biographies lend themselves to this type of delivery.

Lee and Low publishes excellent biographies of Civil Rights leaders, and has good titles like Haskins' John Lewis in the Lead and Abouraya's Malala Yousafzai: Warrior With Words that would be a good accompaniment to this book, and there is a great bibliography of other resources on LGBTQ history at the back .
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