This kids' book about a gay prince and his farm boy crush is beyond cute.

The story of Jack and Leo is a fairy tale every kid should hear.

Meet farm boy Jack and Prince Leo.

Photo courtesy of "Promised Land," used with permission.


They're characters in "Promised Land," an adorable children's book that you should know about whether you have kids or not.

Photo courtesy of "Promised Land," used with permission.

You won't find too many other fairy tales like "Promised Land" in the kids' section at your local bookstore.

Because in this particular fairytale, Prince Leo and farm boy Jack fall in love.

This is how the book's creators describe the story:

"In 'Promised Land,' a young prince and a farm boy meet by chance in the forest and their newfound friendship soon blossoms into love. However, things get complicated when the queen's sinister new husband seeks control over the enchanted forest that the farm boy's family are responsible for protecting."

As the book's creators point out, there simply aren't enough children's stories that feature LGBT characters.

Co-authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris, who both live in New Zealand and identify as gay, were inspired to write "Promised Land" to make sure more LGBT kids feel represented in the world around them.

"I wanted to tell the type of story that I never got to see or read myself growing up," Reynolds said in a statement.

The sentiment is one many advocates agree with: It's critical that our media does a better job at representing people from across the LGBT spectrum.


Co-authors Adam Reynolds (left) and Chaz Harris. Photo courtesy of "Promised Land," used with permission.

It was "vitally important" to the duo that the same-sex relationship in their book was seen as normal, too: "Our story just happens to feature two lead characters who are young men that meet and fall in love, [and] nobody questions that."

But "Promised Land" isn't just great for kids — it provides a great opportunity for parents to discuss LGBT issues with their children, according to Harris:

"So much of what we see through the media and our parents when we are children forms our opinions and attitudes towards others and, more importantly, our attitudes towards ourselves. There are so few stories available for parents to safely and easily discuss with their kids that the world is full of all kinds of relationships and to encourage the acceptance of that.”

Although "Promised Land" has yet to be published, it's already prompting important conversations back in New Zealand, where, incredibly, the book inspired a news reporter to publicly come out as gay, its creators told Upworthy.

"Promised Land" is raising funds on Kickstarter so the book can be released on Oct. 11, 2016 — a day recognized in many areas of the world as National Coming Out Day.

The fundraiser is offering supporters pre-orders of the book, and — if additional fundraiser goals are met — an audiobook and interactive app version of "Promised Land" as well.

Photo courtesy of "Promised Land," used with permission.

To Reynolds and Harris, "Promised Land" is all about building a more inclusive world for all kids.

"Like with all media, I think there have been some amazing strides" in terms of LGBT visibility, Reynolds said. "But there is still a lot of work left to be done."

"Our hope is that our book can help in some small way towards building a better representation for [LGBT people] in the future."

You can learn more about "Promised Land" and support the book's Kickstarter here.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

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The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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