Children’s book about gender non-conformity looks to make its way into local libraries, schools

 

By Jolene Perron

 

Since receiving her self-published book just a few weeks ago, local artist Melissa Piva has been busy packaging her pre-purchased books and distributing sponsored copies into the Little Free Libraries around Essex County.

“There was an option for people to not only get a copy of Rory’s Rainbow for themselves but also to sponsor a copy to be distributed within the community,” said Piva. “I had specifically said that I would be putting them in the Little Free Libraries within Windsor and Essex County because we frequent those. We quite enjoy them and see a lot of people come and go from them so I thought it would be a good spot to get them out.”

Melissa Piva (centre), author and illustrator of Rory’s Rainbow, stands with her children Joyce Veres (left), Mikey Piva and Nate Piva, showcasing her freshly printed books.

The story “explores the topics of gender expression and acceptance through the tale of a toy dinosaur named Rory.” Piva explained, throughout the story, instead of assigning either gender, she is trying to keep it so that it’s gender non-conforming. In doing this, if a child who is just questioning reads the story they can relate to it. If it’s a child who relates more feminine or more masculine, Piva is using ‘they’ and ‘their’ as the pronouns instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ for both the child and for the dinosaur so that it’s relatable. The idea is to allow any child to be able to relate to the story, may they themselves be questioning or expressing this type of gender non-conformity, or know someone who is.

Piva has also been out to the Harrow Library and has spoken with the librarian there, who will be bringing a copy of Rory’s Rainbow to the board offices for the Essex County Library to see if it can be approved and put into the libraries. Additionally, the principal at Malden Central has spoken with Piva and she will be bringing him a copy to send to the Public School Board to see if they can get the approval to put it into the public school libraries.

“Every time I head back from anybody about it, I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Piva. “I keep waiting for somebody to say something negative about it. A lot of people have said that it’s a really touching story, some people have said that they cried when they’ve read it which I consider to be the greatest compliment ever when it comes to my writing.”

Friends, family and anyone who has read Rory’s Rainbow has been asked to go onto the book’s Facebook page and make a post afterwards about how they feel the book turned out. Piva said the responses have been positive across the board.

The next step for Piva is to get her book picked up by a publishing company. Now that she has been given feedback on what people think of the book, and since it’s been well received, she would like to find a publisher to take it on and “take it worldwide.”

“I am quite happy with the outcome,” said Piva. “It didn’t faze me when I wasn’t able to reach my fundraising goal, I was grateful for any support that came along to help with it because I was determined to get it done either way and how well it’s been received has been so positive and the reactions I have had from people have been so reassuring and affirming that I’m really glad I did it.”

For more information on Rory’s Rainbow, visit their Facebook page, or see Piva’s personal Facebook Page, Melissa Piva Visual Artist. You can also e-mail her directly at mudpuppygallery@gmail.com

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