Howe, James. Pinky and Rex. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1990. 40 pages. $15.00. ISBN 9780689314544.
Best friends Pinky and Rex are thrilled to visit the natural history museum, but there’s one downside: Pinky’s little sister, Amanda, is coming too. Pinky must say goodbye to his collection of stuffed animals and the friends realize that they have the exact same number, twenty-seven in all! Amanda is upset because she has fewer and wishes that Pinky and Rex would share with her. When they arrive at the museum, Amanda wants to see the dinosaurs first, but Pinky and Rex like to save the best for last. To conclude their trip, they make a stop in the gift shop and all three kids want the same pink stegosaurus! What would happen if Pinky or Rex had one more stuffed animal and they didn’t match anymore? Nobody has enough money to make the purchase on their own, and in the end a cooperative solution emerges.
Pinky and Rex push the limits of gender stereotyping. Pinky, a boy, loves pink. Rex, a girl, loves dinosaurs. Their individual quirks are not dwelled upon, but presented in a straightforward manner. Most classrooms have students at various places on the gender spectrum. In the early grades, it can be particularly illuminating to explore gender attributes with students and bring awareness to individual differences and similarities. This method promotes inclusiveness as well as support for all the ways that boys can be boys and girls can be girls.
I love Pinky’s tenderness, as he says goodbye to his animals: “Some [animals] he patted because they didn’t care to be hugged first thing in the morning. And some, like his spider and his porcupine, he didn’t touch at all because they didn’t care to be hugged ever.”
Gender, Nonsexist literature, Friendship, Family, Social Skills
The Cam Jansen series (Adler) is written at a similar level, and features themes of inter-gender friendship in addition to a good mystery.