It’s My Body, a book for kids on body diversity

From Quill and Quire:

It’s My Body! is an exuberant, kid-friendly nonfiction picture-book primer on body positivity. Simple, direct sentences celebrate “ALL KINDS” of bodies and kick-start a convivial conversation about how to be your body’s best friend.

Governor General’s Award–winning author-illustrator Elise Gravel’s signature quirky characters are in fine form. The endearingly wacky, googly-eyed monsters who populate these pages have their own unique shapes, sizes, colours, and abilities. The gallery includes a long-legged critter who looks like a pink wad of bubble gum on stilts, a round blue rascal with a toothy grin, and a reddish tube-shaped imp waving hello.

Full of pep, the cartoon illustrations showcase monsters in motion. Some of the exercising, playing, and dancing creatures use assistive devices including glasses, hearing aids, and wheelchairs, and all enjoy the feats their bodies can perform. The relatable text acknowledges the delicate mind–body connection: “Sometimes we feel good in our bodies, and sometimes we don’t.” Monsters have self-doubts too; one laments, “Are my horns too pointy?” while another confesses, “I like my eyes, but not my nose!” Combining laughs with thoughtful lessons, this robust resource also offers tips on how to treat your body with kindness and keep it “HEALTHY AND HAPPY.”

Not only is Gravel a marvellous monster maven, she is an indisputable children’s champion (honoured in 2019 with the Rights and Freedoms Award from the Quebec Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse). Affirmations like “Your body belongs to YOU and only you!” lead to a discussion of boundaries. Gravel is adept at breaking down big concepts into easily understood core truths: “Nobody should touch your body in ways that you don’t like. Other people have these rights too. You shouldn’t touch their bodies without asking first.” Sample social scenarios play out in the comic panels, making sense of consent and teaching kids that it is perfectly fine to choose high-fives over hugs when preferred.

With monster-sized aplomb and panache, Gravel delivers a message that can’t be heard enough: every body is worthy of love and respect.

Pink, Blue and You: my new book is in stores today!

My new book is in stores today! Let’s teach our kids that their gender shouldn’t define who they are, what they like and who they love. Buy it here!

Here’s a starred review from the School Library Journal:

“In her signature style, Gravel (What Is a Refugee? and others) and Blais provide an accessible introduction to gender and gender stereotypes. Beginning with smart, open-ended questions, the authors challenge readers to think about gender stereotypes, why they exist, and if they are true or fair. The book progresses to an overview of sex versus gender, complete with helpful visual aids, an exploration of pronouns, and ultimately, a few examples of how gender is treated in different communities. At each step, the authors ask readers what they think and how they feel. This engagement, coupled with the accessible presentation of the material, makes for an excellent resource. The folks depicted throughout vary in appearance, and include many skin tones, ages, and family structures. A few folks wear hijabs, and two others use wheelchairs. Gravel’s illustrative style is wildly appealing, and the comic-style presentation helps to endear the book to readers.

VERDICT: Thoughtful, engaging, and visually bright, this is an excellent addition to any library serving preschool and early elementary ages.”

The Worst Book Ever is in bookstores today!

This terrible book is available in bookstores today! Don’t buy it. It’s a total waste of money.

The Quill and Quire’s review:

Elise Gravel’s wildly creative new picture book purports to have no imagination at all. Called The Worst Book Ever, it’s a fairy-tale story of a prince and princess who lead exceptionally boring lives until one day a monster arrives and the prince must save the princess. 

A plot like this is shockingly retrograde. That’s why there are three bonus characters – a spider, a blob, and a star-like creature – who live outside of the story and are reading and commenting on it as it progresses. Like Statler and Waldorf or the robot characters from Mystery Science Theater 3000, they provide biting humour and judgment, calling out the off-putting title, the fact that “Prinse” and “Prinsess” are continually spelled wrong, and how “ugly” the illustrations are. It’s an early lesson in meta-narratives for young readers – and it’s a riot for the whole family.

The book is the perfect balance of fun and big themes hidden under more fun. Gravel is loyal to her fan base, cramming in plenty of bodily function humour, while the voice-of-reason characters remind kids that a book should be more than just boogers and farts. These astute critics also point out the story’s sexism, lack of diversity, gratuitous violence, and use of clichés – making this a surprisingly effective classroom tool for what to include in a book report.

The illustrations are purposefully simplistic and ill-proportioned – but still jokey and weird enough to amuse. And there are visual gags for older readers, including a cover sticker that proudly states “Winner of Zero Book Awards.”

There are very few children’s books that are both laugh-out-loud funny and completely on-point and undidactic in their teachable moments. Gravel has nailed this – and made it look easy.

Olga 2 – We’re out of here!


This book is now available in bookstores! I hope you’ll like it. Here’s the Kirkus review:

“In her second science-based adventure, inquisitive Olga relies on research to help determine what ails her beloved pet, Meh.

After discovering a new species—the Olgamus ridiculus—in her last adventure (Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere, 2017), fact-loving and gently misanthropic Olga has decided to leave Earth with Meh, who she’s decided must come from another planet. The black-haired, pale-skinned girl gathers information about what they will need for their intergalactic journey by visiting her favorite punk-rock librarian, Ms. Swoop, amassing space facts from the internet, and learning about astronaut-appropriate fare. However, Olga soon notices that something is wrong with Meh when her companion’s usually gentle demeanor and appearance both change for the worse. Will Olga be able to find out what is wrong with her cherished Olgamus ridiculus so they can embark upon their cosmic journey? Question-loving Olga describes herself as “grouchy,” but this seems a bit unfair; Olga is a strong—and wholly likable—character who values research and fact (usually over human interaction) and is not afraid to speak her mind, whether she’s confronting the popular girls or a vainglorious veterinarian. With pleasing, pink-toned two-color illustrations in an appealing graphic-hybrid format with large, charming artwork, this should appeal to an audience who likes their protagonists to be bold, smart, and welcoming of a gross-out joke or two.

A well-wrought sophomore offering with a delightfully unconventional heroine.”

You can get the book in all bookstores!

You can find the Kirkus review HERE.