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The Colorful Life & Big Heart Of Linus

Stuart Hausmann
Atheneum Books
$18.99 (print) / $10.99 (digital)

Imagine a world of straight lines and boxy shapes where everything and everyone is some shade of gray. This is the world in which young Linus lives but for Linus life is about different shapes and a rainbow of colors. While everyone else around him conforms to strict rules, Linus can’t help being himself despite being given repeated reminders from “Line Leader” that culminate in sending Linus to a “weekend retreat” for the Builders Club so he can “build character”, “straighten back up”, and “return to being the Linus we know and love”. Instead of keeping Linus in line (pun intended), he decides to leave his home to journey into the unknown beyond the wall. It’s the beginning a great adventure into a riotous rainbow colored world bursting with fun, unusual shapes, new experiences and new friends.

Linus’ story will sound familiar to LGBTQA+ adults who’ve lived through the experiences of growing up in a conservative family. Everyday an unknown number of queer youth dream of making a break from their repressive situations hoping to find a new life in a vibrant and supportive community like Linus did. If the book ended on this note it would make good reading but author/ artist Stuart Hausmann takes Linus in a different direction. Linus becomes homesick and after reflection on his feelings he works up even more courage than he needed to leave by deciding to return home and introduce some of his new friends to the people of Linneopolis. Despite some initial hesitation from both groups, Linus’ bold dream and trust are rewarded in the end.

Young eyes will be drawn into young Linus’ story even more when the print book is fully opened to its generous seventeen inch width. A butterfly leads the eye as it flies from page to page, perhaps also acting as a sort of guide to the young hero. A digital copy will invite eyes to zoom in and out and to wander across each page before scrolling to the next. Underscoring Linus’ message of inclusivity and diversity is the art with the obvious contrast in how Hausmann portrays the people and city of Linneopolis to the people outside of its borders. Drawing objects in shades of gray, the gray scale, is a tried and true method to convey substance. Color is the element in art that describes the quality of light reflected from an object to the eye. Both can exist without the other and when combined they make for a full range of vision. Rather than giving an inelegant explanation like this to a child simply talk about the art and encourage discussion. Please see the Amazon listing (link below) for sample art.

Adults who may have concerns about how well the book will hold up in the hands of little ones will appreciate knowing the print edition is a hardcover with smyth sewn binding. A hardcover book whose pages are bound by this method makes for a sturdy book.

Linus is Stuart Hausmann’s debut picture book intended for all young children ages four to eight. It is a departure from the typical graphic novels and comics reviewed and featured at Gay League. Linus’ messages of finding and creating communities, coming together, acceptance, of being different are good things to work for and to celebrate are even more relevant for young children to hear and learn given the opposing social and political elements found across the country.

Linus is available on February, 21st. Look for it at your local independent book store or through these sources:

Bookshop
Indie Bound
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

February 20, 2023
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