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Books

Kaleidoscopic new kids book sees RuPaul ‘break stereotypes’ while teaching children about drag and the power of being yourself

Rajdeep Singh October 27, 2020
Following Elton John and David Bowie, RuPaul will be the latest lGBT+ icon to appear on the Little People, Big Dreams series. (VH1/The Quarto Group)

Following Elton John and David Bowie, RuPaul will be the latest lGBT+ icon to appear on the Little People, Big Dreams series. (VH1/The Quarto Group)

The latest Little People, Big Dreams book, which examines the lives of outstanding public figures throughout history, will be based on none other than the queen of drag, RuPaul.

RuPaul is the latest icon to be the subject of the book series, after influential figures such as Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, David Bowie and Elton John.

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, the Spanish author behind the series, originally focused on profiling influential women from history to break stereotypes for young girls, but explained to PA that she branched out because “boys have kind of the same problem”.

“They are supposed to play football, they are supposed to like fighting and all these things that not all of them like,” she explained.

“That is what I found so amazing about this character – it makes me think of so many of my friends who are LGBTQ, and many of my friends who went through a very similar story when they were kids. And this is so important to break all these stereotypes that are related to boys.”

Vergara believes it is important to let children “know naturally we are all different and that uniqueness is what makes us special and that is the cool part of all of us”.

She added that diversity is about being different and “enjoying that”, while being able to have fun and “never being ashamed of who you are or how you feel.”

The author explained that she researched the book by watching all the seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and said she is “a big fan now”.

“I didn’t really know him that well because here in Spain he’s not that well known,” she said.

Wednesday Holmes, illustrator of the book, added: “Illustrating Rupaul’s story has been such a gift and dream combined.

“I have always strived to paint queer and [gender non-conforming] stories, as I’m so passionate about young people being able to see themselves in the books around them. I believe that many people will be touched by little Ru’s story of persistence, authenticity, creativity, and love.”

RuPaul represents ‘diversity and self-love’ to children, says commissioning editor. 

RuPaul’s Drag Race is known for combining fabulous lip-sync battles and tear-jerking moments as its contestants share their stories and the complexities of LGBT+ issues. 

The show highlights both the strength and the vulnerability of the LGBT+ community – something Katy Flint, the commissioning editor of the series, says is vital for children to see.

Flint said: “It’s hugely important what RuPaul represents to kids because you have a sense of fun and creativity and dress up and theatre. But there are also the themes of self-acceptance, self-expression and of also valuing diversity and self-love.”

She continued to say that “RuPaul is a perfect choice” to bring to a children’s book, because of the themes covered in Drag Race as well as RuPaul’s own teachings.

“A lot of time, people say ‘You can’t put that in a kids’ book’ and people are quite patronising towards children, not realising that a lot of damage can happen in childhood if kids don’t see themselves on the page and if kids feel left out.”

In a Q&A with World Book Day, Vergara explained her inspiration for the series came from her nieces and nephews reading children’s books centring around boys being able to “conquer the world” and her realising that books for girls didn’t have a similar message.

So, she sought to change that.

“I wanted to show Alba and Claudia [Vergara’s nieces] some real female characters who had had the determination to believe in their dreams and make these dreams a reality.”

She also talked about the success of the books, saying: “I guess that’s one of the reasons the series has been so successful because it’s remained relevant all these years.

“Although I like to think the success of the series really boils down to one main factor: children love to read true stories about other children — like them — achieving great things.”

RuPaul (Little People, Big Dreams) is published May 4, 2021, and is available to pre-order now.

More: Big Dreams, children's book, LGBT books, Little People, rupaul

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