Introducing Teddy began when Jessica Walton started searching for books that she could read to her young son that reflected the diversity in her family. She wanted books that encouraged children to be themselves, and to be accepting of others.
A few years earlier, Jessica’s dad Tina had finally been able to tell her family that in her heart, she had always been female. Soon after Tina’s transition began, Jessica and her wife had a son.
While Jessica found picture books with gay characters, it was much harder to find books aimed at a young audience featuring transgender and gender diverse characters. She decided to write the picture book she needed.
Jessica came up with a story about a teddy bear who finally tells her friends that she is a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. Teddy’s friends respond with love, care and respect. In no way does the friendship between them change when teddy transitions, except perhaps that their friendship is strengthened by the experience.
To bring this story to life, Jessica needed the perfect illustrator. Jessica put out the call on Facebook to friends and family – did anyone know an amazing illustrator? She was put in touch with the extraordinarily talented Dougal MacPherson (the artist behind ’15 minute drawings’ on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), who agreed to come on board.
Wondering if other families out there might also be looking for a gentle, positive book about a transgender character for young children, Jessica decided to put her project on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter project not only reached its target, it doubled it. It was shared far and wide on social media, and Jessica’s favourite author Neil Gaiman tweeted about the project. Jessica was surprised to find herself talking to journalists from newspapers and radio stations around the world.
Before they knew it, Jessica and Dougal’s book had a publisher, Bloomsbury. The book will also be published in Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Japan.
Teddy knows in her heart that she is a girl, not a boy. Will her friends understand?
Will they call her Tilly instead of Thomas?
A story about being yourself, and being a good friend.
Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton
Illustrated by Dougal MacPherson
Publication Date June 2016