Téo’s Tutu by Maryann Jacob Macias,  illustrated by Alea Marley


Téo’s Tutu by Maryann Jacob Macias,  illustrated by Alea Marley. Dial Books, Penguin Random House, 2021. 9781984815521

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? Téo is a little boy (who uses he/him pronouns) with brown skin and a fluffy black mop of curls. His Amma and Papí have created a joyful, accepting, and dance-filled home for him and we get to watch them dance the cumbia and the bhangra around their living room. They’ve also taken Téo to see Swan Lake, where he first fell in love with ballet. Now he’s ready for his first class in which his teacher, Ms. Lila, supports his choice to wear a sparkly tutu. She guides the students through beginning positions and readies them for their first performance. Téo ultimately has to decide whether to wear the black pants and sparkly shirt ensemble or the soft, fluttery tutu for his recital and eventually chooses the latter. Everyone celebrates his right to wear what he wants. The colorful digital art is quite literal, with Téo’s moments of discomfort telegraphed clearly through a worried look or wide, rounded eyes, while his moments of happiness and comfort are shot through with stars and swirls of bright color. This is a sweet story about bravery and the importance of having caring adults in one’s life.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Téo looks to be about 4 or 5 in the book; he seems a little young to be experiencing such existential angst over the recital outfit, especially as everyone in his life is so incredibly supportive. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Children whose clothing choices are gender nonconforming and their caretakers or those who know such a child may enjoy this book, which wisely leaves ample room for discussion. This would be a good read alike for Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 19, 2022

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Alea Marley, Ballet, Illustrator, LGBTQIA+ and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.