If you're a parent who's sick of the damsels-in-distress trope, a new fantasy kids' book is probably right up your alley.
Image by "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.
"Maiden Voyage" begins when Ru inherits her fisherman father's mysterious map. Curious, she sets sail on Captain Freya's boat, and the two fend off pirates and a wicked queen as they conquer the high seas — falling for each other in the process.
Ru and Captain Freya. Image by "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.
The story, aimed at 5- to 10-year-olds, is already creating buzz online, drawing praise from celebrities like George Takei and Sir Ian McKellen for filling an egregious void in kids' lit.
The tale features interracial, same-gender love, which is far too uncommon in children's literature.
"It’s important for young people to feel included, that they have a place in the world and something they can relate to," Jaimee Poipoi, who identifies as Takatāpui (a Māori term used to describe same-gender attraction), said in a statement. She co-authored the book alongside fellow LGBTQ New Zealanders Chaz Harris and Adam Reynolds.
Authors Adam Reynolds, Chaz Harris, and Jaimee Poipoi. Image by "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.
"Maiden Voyage" is the follow-up to Harris and Reynolds' "Promised Land," a love story about a prince and farm boy that went viral last year.
Along with highlighting LGBTQ characters, another inspiration behind "Maiden Voyage" was curbing the gender imbalance so prevalent in children's media.
A 2011 Florida State University study found that of 6,000 picture books published between 1990–2000, no more than 33% of the stories in any given year featured a female character. (Male characters appeared in 100%.)
Changing the way women and girls are portrayed in books was important too, Harris noted: "As with our first book, we wanted to avoid the ‘damsels in distress’ trope and continue being inclusive of people of color who are still hugely underrepresented in children’s books."
"Girls need to grow up knowing they can be a powerful queen, a brave sea captain, or anything else they set their minds to," Harris said.
Farm boy Jack and Prince Leo; Ru and Captain Freya. Image courtesy of "Promised Land"/Kickstarter and "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.
"Maiden Voyage" is currently seeking to raise $28,000 by its fundraising deadline on Nov. 14, 2017.
Once the book is published, supporters can get paperback and e-versions of the tale, as well as coloring sheets of the characters and other neat rewards.
"We invite you to step aboard and join us on this journey to bring a little more kindness and love into the world," the Kickstarter page reads. "Because love is love, and everyone deserves to live happily ever after."