People are abuzz over this sweet same-gender love story that could soon be a book.

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."

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.