Sparkle Boy

Illustrated by Marina Mola
Lee and Low Books, 2017

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Sparkly jewelry
Like Casey and Jessie, author Lesléa Newman loves shimmery, glittery, sparkly things!

Casey’s big sister Jessie has a shimmery skirt, glittery nails, and a sparkly bracelet. Casey wants these things too, but Jessie thinks they are only for girls. Or are they? Sparkle Boy is a gentle book about acceptance, respect, and everyone’s right to shine. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are fun…..for everyone!

Why I Wrote This Book

Here’s a question I was once asked: “If you had nothing to rebel against and nothing to conform to, who would you be?” That got me thinking about the “rules” that our society dictates that are harmful to us all, including notions about gender. I wrote Sparkle Boy in hopes that it will add to the discussion about the wide spectrum of gender expression. There is no “right” way to be. There are as many ways to express gender as there are people in the world and we all deserve the freedom to be whoever we want.


Jessie adored all things shimmery, glittery, and sparkly. “Look at my shimmery skirt,” Jessie said to her little brother Casey as she twirled into the living room and her skirt twirled out all around her.

Casey looked up from his alphabet blocks. “Ooh, shimmery, shimmery,” he said reaching out his hand. “I want shimmery.”

Jessie stopped twirling and her skirt stopped twirling, too. “You can’t have a shimmery skirt, Casey,” she said.

“Why?” Casey asked.

“Because boys don’t wear shimmery skirts,” said Jessie. “Right, Mama?”

Mama thought for a minute…..


“Sparkle Boy is the perfect book for families who are trying to ease in to gender-neutral parenting, or for teachers with students who have trouble accepting displays of gender non-conformance.”

“A cheerful addition for libraries that need more titles like Cheryl Kilodavis’s My Princess Boy and Sarah Hoffman’s Jacob’s New Dress.”

“Another nuanced knockout from Lesléa Newman, Sparkle Boy shines, shimmers, and speaks to the world we live in now.”

“With beautiful illustrations by Maria Mola, Newman wonderfully captures the innocence of youth and envisions a world where we can all be ourselves.”

“Sparkle Boy captures the sparkle of siblinghood and the joy of glitter. I love Casey and his family. They are filled with love and heart. Once again, Lesléa Newman reminds us that we all have the right to shine!”

“21st century kids face an unprecedented future. Sparkle Boy sparkles with traits they’ll need, like creativity, freedom, and integrity….not to mention great outfits.”

“There are so many reasons to love Sparkle Boy, and the titular Sparkle Boy’s big sister Jessie is one of them. Jessie shows us that tolerance and understanding can sometimes be a learning process for some, and that we all learn at different paces, through different experiences, and for various reasons – love being one of them.”