The Stonewall ­Riots: Making a Stand for LGBTQ Rights

First Second. (History Comics). May 2022. 128p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250618368; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250618351.
Gr 4-7–Stand up to hate alongside activists in this series entry on the 1969 Stonewall Riots. As teenagers Rashad, Jax, and Natalia help Natalia’s grandmother, Carmen, move, they stumble upon a black-and-white photograph. To the teens’ surprise, the photo is of Carmen and her former girlfriend back in 1969. As Carmen outs herself to the young people (themselves coded LGBTQIA+), she talks about the difficulties and dangers of being queer back then. À la The Magic School Bus, the characters are transported back in time to experience the real-life history firsthand. After immediately getting a taste for the period’s homophobia, the crew seeks safe haven at the Stonewall Inn. There, they meet critical activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Before too long, the police show up to raid the place yet again, and the teens witness the titular riots begin. Bongiovanni and Andrews effectively simplify the events and setting to make them age-appropriate, while striking a delicate balance of depicting both queer joy and resistance. Characters throughout are diverse in skin tone. Without detracting from Stonewall’s importance, the narrative nods to other pivotal events at Cooper Do-nuts, Dewey’s, and Compton’s Cafeteria. The narrative also briefly summarizes key events in future decades as the teens return to the present. Historian and professor Michael Bronski introduces the book. Back matter includes notes, resources, and definitions that further contextualize the information.
VERDICT Accessible and intersectional, this compact foray into queer history is an essential purchase for all graphic nonfiction collections.

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