Why we love it: Jessica Walton was looking for a book to help explain her dad’s transition to her young son. After struggling to find options that featured transgender or gender diverse characters she decided she’d just have to write it herself. The result is Introducing Teddy, a new Australian picture book all about bravery, acceptance, friendship – and just being who you are.
Introducing Teddy began life as a Kickstarter project, but surpassed its goal very quickly, ending up nearly double what Jessica had originally been hoping for. People around the world embraced the idea and simple and tender story, with beautiful illustrations by Dougal Macpherson.
At the core of Introducing Teddy is a friendship. Errol and Thomas the teddy do everything together, whether it’s gardening, bike riding, or even having indoor tea parties when the weather is unpleasant.
But one day Thomas can’t muster up the usual enthusiasm – even the swing isn’t working – because something is the matter and sharing it with Errol is very scary. Thomas is worried it would affect their friendship if Errol knew Thomas has always felt like a girl teddy, not a boy teddy, and would much rather be called Tilly. “Is that why you’ve been so sad?” says Errol, “I don’t care if you’re a girl teddy or a boy teddy! What matters is that you are my friend.” Together with their pal Ava (who thinks Tilly is a fabulous name) they head off to the park for more adventures.
Errol and Ava’s complete, unconditional acceptance of Tilly being Tilly is the strongest message Introducing Teddy offers, and is an important lesson not just in relation to gender. Young kids who have felt, for whatever reason, like they don’t quite fit in with their peers can be inspired by Tilly’s bravery, and encouraged by Errol and Ava’s wholehearted embrace of their friend.
The illustrations by Dougal Macpherson are lovely, and really bring the story to life. The soft, bright colours and expressive faces help create the book’s gentle, heart-warming feel.
Introducing Teddy is an important and timely book that many parents and children have been looking for. Its messages focus on being who you are, accepting others, encouraging bravery – and celebrating with an indoor tea party when it’s raining.