The Genderific Coloring Book!

Last month, through a post shared by my friend and fellow writer Katje van Loon, I heard about an artist seeking parent bloggers to review her new colouring book.  It wasn’t just any colouring book but a colouring book about gender identity.  Yes, please!  So here is my review of The Genderific Coloring Book by Sophie LaBelle.


This colouring book is filled with fun images that bring awareness to the fact that gender isn’t as simple as girl/boy/boy/girl or as simple as looking at someone and saying, “Bam!  Girl!”  (And if you did say those exact words, the person in question would likely run away.)  The images presented in the book range from the realistic (children dressing up, roller skating, etc.) to the fantastical (dragons, giant pangolins, etc).

Here is a picture of mermaids my daughter and I coloured:


Do cats have genders?  There are a couple of pages in the book asking exactly that.  Here’s my child’s answer to one of them:


Cybercat is totally a gender.

This book makes a great addition to our homelearning environment.  It challenges ideas of what makes a girl/boy/other gendered-person and creates empowerment for children (and adults) to decide what their own gender is.  There is a page with the picture of a child and a banner that says, “My Gender is _______.”

My daughter was a bit confused about the term gender, as I suppose we hadn’t gone very in-depth about it before.  It would have been useful if the colouring book had a quick glossary for gender terms.  Then again, it provided a starting point for a discussion with my child about gender, and that works, too.

As for what colouring media work best on the paper, crayons work well and markers work fairly well.  There is little bleed-through with markers on the back of the page.  I did notice a couple pictures transferred marker marks onto the opposite page, so I advise making sure the marker is dry on one page before turning to another page.

About the artist/author:  Sophie LaBelle is the creator of the webcomic Assigned Male.  If you would like to support her, check out her Patreon account and buy this colouring book.  It’s fun and…genderific!

Puberty: Coming to a body near you!

The following book review first appeared in abridged format in the June 2015 issue of Island Parent Magazine (in print and in pdf on their web site).  I’m presenting the unabridged version here, as this book is an important tool for both parents and children.

Cover illustrated by Elisabeth Steinmeyer
Cover illustrated by Elisabeth Steinmeyer

Puberty, that tumultuous time of big changes, happens to every child.  How do we parents prepare our children for it?

There are many books on the subject, much Internet advice, and many variations on The Talk.  Now there is a new puberty book to add to the mix.  Puberty:  Coming to a body near you! is a puberty workbook written by local certified sex educator Kerri Isham.

Ms. Isham has a Bachelor of Physical Education and Bachelor of Education from Ottawa University.  She has taught in School District 69 for fourteen years; for ten of those years, she was a Sexual Health Educator at the middle school level.  I asked Ms. Isham what her goal was with the writing of this book.  She said:  “The goal of this book was to have kids and parents interact with each other, while discussing a topic that is difficult for some to talk about.  I wanted kids to be proud of their body changes and to be able to discuss these changes with confidence.  Puberty is a rite of passage and should be celebrated.”

This book is different than most books about puberty, in that it is interactive. When asked why a workbook, Ms. Isham replied, “I chose to make this a workbook instead of a book, because there are a lot of great books out there already. I couldn’t find a workbook, and I know some kids have a hard time reading a lot of text. This book is accessible for all learners.”

Despite containing thorough information on a variety of puberty-related topics, Puberty:  Coming to a body near you! does remain accessible.  Information is broken up into sections, many of which have accompanying worksheets to go with them.  (And, yes, there is an answer key at the end of the book.)  The book is filled with illustrations, pictures, and even drawing opportunities.

Three parts of this book stand out as favourites for me, besides the worksheet aspect of it.  First, there are illustrations of what different genitalia look like.  Media bombard us with a lot of images, but these images are so homogenized we tend to have a narrow view of what is “normal.”  Not all breasts (or anything else) look alike.  These illustrations help to normalize this unique-ness.  Second, I like that there are sections about gender and about sexual attraction.  Third, I am ecstatic that there is a section about consent.  I don’t recall any talk about consent when I was learning about puberty.  It was all about the changes and reproductive capabilities.  Consent is a talk as vital as any talk about physical and emotional changes.

Given that puberty can be a difficult topic for parents and kids alike to discuss, I asked Ms. Isham what the most important thing people don’t know about puberty is.  She said, “Easy…there is a WIDE range of normal. Being a unique being brings richness to the world.”

Overall, I love this book.  My daughter is a little young for it yet, but the time is coming soon; Ms. Isham’s website recommends this book for grades 3 to 7.

Kerri Isham also facilitates workshops on Vancouver Island about sexual health and media savvy.  She has workshops titled Body Smart (three different workshops for parents, divided by children’s age groups), Navigating Girl World:  Effective Strategies for Parenting Girls (I took this one a couple years ago, and it was great), Boxed In – Sexism and Gender Stereotypes, and 6 Must Have Conversations with Teens.  If you’re interested in Puberty:  Coming to a body near you! or any of the workshops, check out or e-mail


Congratulations to the USA for finally doing a right thing:  marriage equality!

We celebrated with vegan rainbow cupcakes.

A great way to end Pride month.  Speaking of Pride month, I have three poems in the e-zine Restless’ Pride month special:  Hi, Penelope Waiting, and First Girl Kiss.

For the past while I’ve been considering a change in the way I identify.  I’m bi.  However, the term bisexual acknowledges only two genders.  I know there are more than two.  I’ve been partial to the term queer for a long time, and I think I’m going to start using it more often.

Marriage equality in the States is an important, big step in the road to equality.  It’s not the end but another step along the way.  Canada celebrated marriage equality in 2005.  Let’s keep going!

June start writing/personal update

Things have been way too quiet around here.  Time for an update.

In my writing life, I have been diligently working on my poetry series at  I have also been working on my fantasy novel.  I’ve been writing notes, taking down names I like from a baby name book, and actually writing the novel.  I’m almost to 4.5K words.  Of course, I feel like it should be more, because I’m not writing it every day and feel that I should.  Ah, well.

I also have a book review published in Island Parent magazine’s June issue (page 33 of the magazine; page 35 of the magazine viewer).  I reviewed the book Puberty:  Coming to a Body Near You! by local, certified Sexual Health Educator Kerri Isham.  You can purchase a copy of her book here.

I received two new books of poetry this past month courtesy of the Big Poetry Giveaway.  Hurray!

I also have a poem set to appear in the forthcoming issue of Island Writer magazine.

In other news, early summer weather has hit the west coast of Canada. Sunshine mixed with cool breezes most days.  There hasn’t been enough rain yet, and our city of Nanaimo is starting level three water restrictions this Saturday.

Our homeschooling/unschooling year technically ended a couple weeks ago.  At least the part where we send in weekly reports to the Learning Consultant of our Distributed Learning program has ended.  My daughter is still learning.  Learning, learning.

Big things are happening for us personally later this summer.  More on that later.

Go enjoy the sunshine if you have it.  Stay in and read or write if you don’t.  ;-)

New Poetry Series!

After a week’s delay due to illness, I am excited to announce that I have started a new poetry series available exclusively on  Channillo is a literary series subscription web site.

My new series is titled The Colour of Her Mind.  It is a series of blackout poems created from The Color of Her Panties by Piers Anthony.  The Color of Her Panties is a Xanth series novel I re-read last summer.  I loved the Xanth series as an adolescent.  As an adult, I dislike the books.  Yes, there are still the many puns that won me over in younger years; however, there is also the misogyny.

After last summer’s re-read, I pondered what to do with my collection of Xanth (and Incarnations of Immortality series) novels.  Sell them?  Donate them to the local literacy second-hand book store?  Then came the idea for blackout poems, a creative response to the dilemma.

The first poem “Mermen” is up and ready for reading, with two other poems slated for release this week.  I intend to release a few blackout poems each week for six months.

Channillo charges $2.59 per month to view one series.  As the author, I will see a significant portion of that money once I reach the $50 minimum threshold.

Please purchase a subscription and support my work!

Supporting a Writer is Lunch Money

I forgot to include this little incident in my post about the Cascadia Poetry Festival, so I decided to give it its own blog post.  Sunday morning, I had gone to the Small Press Fair with the intent to buy books.  I stopped by a table of books by Festival presenters, as I wanted to buy Christine Lowther‘s book Half-Blood Poems.  I had been by this table a couple times at that point and still wasn’t sure who was accepting money for the books.

Christine Lowther happened to be standing nearby.  I greeted her and mentioned my dilemma in purchasing her book.  She thought the woman at the attached table (who was the publisher of the Festival’s anthology) was handling the Festival presenters’ book purchases.  However, Ms. Lowther told me I could just buy the book from her.

As I did so, she made the comment that now she had money for lunch.

This.  This is what you are supporting, dear readers, when you buy from authors and artists (directly or from small middlepeople, such as small presses).  You are buying them lunch.  Or you are paying their cab fare.  Or you are helping them pay rent. When you buy an author’s book or another artist’s artwork, you are supporting the various necessities and small luxuries that keep the artist alive, well, and creating.