Jack, a young farm boy is always getting in trouble for not doing his chores. That is until one day, Jack and his puppy, Milo, encounter a mysterious tree spirit. Jack soon bumps into Leo, a prince who's mother is under a spell by the evil Gideon. As Jack and Leo grow, so does their relationship, which soon blossoms into love. However, Leo can never be truly happy until he gets his mother back. Will Jack and Leo manage to break the spell on Queen Elena, or will they soon have no choice but to bow down to Gideon?
When I got sent a request for this book and saw that it was a picture book, I almost immediately dismissed it. I rarely ever review picture books, not because I think i'm above them, but because they're so short I feel that I will run out of things to talk about, and of course I can never do the gorgeous illustrations justice! However, when I saw the topic of this book, I knew that I had to make an exception!
The book follows a young farm boy named Jack, who is given a puppy by his mother to teach him responsibility. Jack and his puppy, Milo, soon become best friends, and explore the forest together. One day, Jack finds Prince Leo, who informs Jack his mother, Queen Elena is under a spell. I loved the friendship between the two boys, and how their relationship developed as they got older. Although the book is very short, their relationship grew over a period of time, and it felt like a very natural progression. The gorgeous illustrations of the two young men spending time together were completely adorable, and I loved how it was shown as such a healthy relationship. I adored that although there was such a huge class difference between them, they treated each other as equals.
One thing that I adored was the complete lack of homophobia. Children's fairy tales often involve a prince falling in love with a peasant girl, or vise versa, and this story felt as if could have come straight from Disney, except the characters who fall in love just so happen to both be male. I adored that although the characters had problems, non of them stemmed from their relationship with each other. I loved how accepting their parents were when they informed them of their relationship, as they acted no differently than if they had been a straight couple, which of course is how all parents should react. We definitely need more books like this to teach children that it doesn't matter what the gender of the person someone falls in love with is, and that love is love.
I have to talk about the map at the start of the book! Although the characters don't actually visit most of the locations on the map, I still loved it, and found it extremely clever that all the locations were named after LGBT celebrities. Although I was a little disappointed the characters never actually visited Mt. Ellen, I was happy that it existed in their world.
The female characters in this book were fantastic! I particularly loved Leo's mother, Queen Elena, and I loved that Leo looked up to her and wanted to grow up to be just like her. She was definitely not a damsel in distress, and I loved how she ended up saving herself and everyone else. I also loved Carol, Jack's mother, who stood her ground against the villain and refused to give up her land. As there is no mentioned of Leo and Jack's fathers, I can only assume that both of these women are single parents who have both succeeded in raising brave, intelligent and kind sons.
The only negative thing I have to say is it was extremely short! Although I do realise it is a picture book and that is just how picture books are, I loved these characters and with all the locations on the map that we never learnt about, I felt as if it had potential to be developed into a children's chapter book. This book has done a fantastic job at normalising LGBT people, and I honestly wish all young children could read it. This was a lovely dedication to the Pulse 49 who tragically lost their lives, and I recommend this fantastic book to all parents who have young children!
Promised Land is now available to purchase!
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