Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution
Written by Rob Sanders
illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Purchased from Barnes & Noble
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969. Sander's Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution, positions the Stonewall Inn itself as the narrator of this book that gives readers an overview of a seminal moment in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Beginning in 1840 with the building of the brick horse stables that would become the Stonewall Inn, the narrator tells the story of the neighborhood that became Greenwich Village, a home to artisans and a place where, "you could be yourself, and where being different was welcomed and accepted," as early as the 1930s. The Inn tells readers that, leading up to the 1960s,

our neighborhood welcomed gays and lesbians - men who loved men, and women who loved women. We were home for people who were told they didn't fit in or belong. We had welcomed all kids of people before, so we knew what to do. In 1967, we swung open our doors and became the Stonewall Inn. Gay men and women from throughout the city and country came to meet old and new friends, free to be themselves inside our walls. Women and men, young and old, teenagers, transgender people, drag queens, veterans, businesspeople, students, people of different colors, religions, and cultures, gathered, chatted, laughed and danced under our roof.

Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution, is, like Sander's book Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, a non-fiction picture book meant to be an introduction, not an exhaustive history. Sanders writes of the repeated raids on the Stonewall Inn, those not arrested leaving, "quickly, angrily, disappearing into the darkness." Until the morning of June 28, 1969 when they didn't. The penultimate two page spread in the book shows the parade that happened on the first anniversary of the riots, making a point to note the diversity of the marchers who chanted, "Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud." The final pages of the book tell readers that many things are different now and that some things have even changed. But, the movement still has far to go. And so do kid's books on this topic. As one review noted, this book is a "beautiful - if a bit cis-centric - tribute." I have no doubt that there are more books to come that represent the many LGBTQIA+ people and their experiences as this movement continues.

Back matter for Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution includes a history of the Stonewall Inn that repeats some of the information in the book and does not mention that women were once excluded. A two page spread of photos does include one of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Ray Rivera at a gay rights rally in 1973 but gives readers no context for why they are included, except possibly that they were trans activists. There is also an interview with Martin Boyce, a participant of the uprising and LGBTQ+ activist, as well as a glossary and further reading and listening. 


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