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Children's Fiction Lgbt

The Name I Call Myself

text by Hasan Namir

illustrated by Cathryn John

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
LGBT, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Alternative Family
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 9
  • Grade: k to 4


A sweet and moving picture book depicting Ari's gender journey from childhood to adolescence in order to discover who they really are.

Meet Ari, a young person who doesn't like to be called by their birth name Edward: "When I think of the name Edward, I imagine old kings who snore a lot." Throughout this beautiful and engaging picture book, we watch Ari grow up before our very eyes as they navigate the ins and outs of their gender identity; we see how, as a child, they prefer dolls and princess movies, and want to grow out their hair, though their father insists on cutting it short, "because that’s what boys look like." At nine, they play hockey but wish they could try on their mother's dresses; at fifteen, they shave their face, hoping to have smooth skin like the girls. At sixteen, they want to run away, especially from their father, who insists, "You're a boy, so you have to act like one." Who will Ari become?

Moving from age six to adolescence, The Name I Call Myself touchingly depicts Edward's tender, solitary gender journey to Ari: a new life distinguished and made meaningful by self-acceptance and unconditional love.

About the authors

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian author. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been in media across Canada. He is also the author of poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*hug Press) which received the 2020 Barbara Gittings Honor Book Award from the Stonewall Book Awards, and children's book The Name I Call Myself (2020). Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband and child.

Hasan Namir's profile page

Cathryn John is an illustrator and designer with a passion for social equity and the environment. Her practice includes a range of mediums from acrylic painting to woodworking. Cathryn is an international award-winning designer for "The Plant Project" which works to improve people's relationships with plants. She lives in Vancouver.

Cathryn John's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Hasan Namir (author) and Cathryn John (illustrator) build a meaningful back-and-forth dialogue between text and image in order to explore what it means to be a nonbinary young person in a less-than-welcoming world focused on binaries and conformity. -CM

Hasan Namir's heartwarming book is a countdown to self-love. Each page is a lesson in courage through Namir's succinct text and Cathryn John's imaginative illustrations. -Catherine Hernandez, author of I Promise and Scarborough

All kids need to see that there are many ways to be in the world - and that even if some people don't understand, in the end, it is what you know about yourself that matters most. -Robin Stevenson, author of Pride Colors

Beautiful words and illustrations come together to show the vulnerability, endurance, and beauty of growing up, and finding the strength to be who you really are. -Dina Del Bucchia, author of Don't Tell Me What to Do

What makes this work particularly impressive is how many of the concerns Ari faces are issues children encounter regardless of their gender identities. While Ari will particularly resonate with queer kids, their fears and secret joys are sure to speak volumes to any outsider or someone in need of a friend. -Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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