Q&A with Daniel Haack, Author of ‘Prince & Knight,’ New Children’s Book Starring Same-Sex CoupleBy Adam Polaski • May 4, 2018 • 2:43 pm
In recent years the number of books, TV shows, films, and songs featuring LGBTQ characters has surged, with an increasing number of children’s media creators recognizing the importance of incorporating LGBTQ themes and characters. These themes, says Megan Townsend of GLAAD, “both help real LGBTQ youth to recognize they are not alone and accelerate acceptance within their peer groups. This ultimately creates a safer environment for LGBTQ young people to be authentically themselves.”
That’s why we’re excited this week about the publication of Prince & Knight, a new children’s picture book from little bee books, released on Tuesday. The book was written by Daniel Haack and illustrated by Stevie Lewis, and it tells the story of a prince who falls in love with a knight, a love story embraced with open arms by the prince’s family and kingdom.
We sat down with author Daniel Haack to discuss how books like Prince & Knight – and his upcoming title, Maiden & Princess, coauthored by Isabel Galupo and illustrated by Becca Human – contribute to the movement for LGBTQ equal treatment, the importance of featuring LGBTQ characters in children’s media, and the path forward for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.
Q: How did you get the idea for Prince & Knight, and what inspired you to turn the idea into a tangible, book-in-hand reality?
For awhile, I had thought it would be fun to play around with the Prince Charming and Knight in Shining Armor tropes and subvert them by making them fall in love with each other. At the same time, I work in children’s media, and I really saw that there was such a dearth of any LGBTQ representation anywhere in the space. There are so many kids today that aren’t seeing their own families or friends’ families represented in any of the books they read or shows they watch, and I wanted to tell a story that showed LGBTQ people as heroes and love interests and do it in a way that was really both kid-friendly and universal.
We enjoy reading to our little princess Victoria ???????? and our little prince Joshua ???????? this book from our brand partner @littlebeebooks ???? is perfect!! I can’t think of any other way to read a book, then to dress up as the characters from this beautiful fairy tale “PRINCE & KNIGHT” GET YOUR COPY ON MAY 1st! “PRINCE & KNIGHT” Beautiful modern fairy tale for all LGBT couples with kids! ????️????. This fairy tale is of a noble prince ???????? and a brave knight that come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love❤! The book is written by Daniel Haack @danielhaack illustrated by Stevie Lewis @chocosweete #PrinceandKnight #BeeAReader @littlebeebooks Published by Little Bee Books @littlebeebooks ❤In Stores May 1, 2018❤ Special thanks to: Costumes by @buffalobreathcostumes ???? photos by @rachaelsmithphotography #gayparents #gaywithkids #somefamilies #lgbt #humanrightscampaign #hrc #familyreads #raiseareader #bookclub #childrensbooks
Q: Prince & Knight is one of a small but growing collection of children’s books featuring LGBTQ themes and characters. What does it mean to you to have published a book that now joins that history of LGBTQ representation?
It’s awesome! It seems like we’ve been making great strides in the past few years with representation overall, but for some reason, it’s still a bit radical to have any LGBTQ characters in media made for kids. It was especially important for me to show a same-sex romance between two human characters and prove that it can be done in a way that is accessible to kids. I should also point out that I recently worked with my talented friend Isabel Galupo on a follow-up book called Maiden & Princess, which is coming out next year, so we’re keeping that tradition going.
Q: Why is it important for children’s books to feature LGBTQ characters?
It’s twofold. There are plenty of studies that show how important it is that people see their own lives and identities reflected in media and pop culture, so on one hand, it’s validating to kids who are LGBTQ or who have parents or grandparents or friends or whoever that are part of the community. I think we definitely underestimate how powerful something like this can be for a child with two dads to see characters like their parents as the brave heroes. On the flip side, it’s also so important to kids who don’t have that kind of exposure or experience. Seeing portrayals like this, when it’s done matter-of-factly, helps introduce LGBTQ themes for kids and creates understanding and love and support.
Our first family trip to the park, and we decided to add a little fun to story time by actually bringing the characters to life! ???? We’re working with @littlebeebooks to celebrate the release of their new children’s book Prince & Knight by @danielhaack ; Illustrated by @chocosweete. It’s a modern day fairytale about a noble prince and a brave knight who come together to defeat a terrible monster. In the process they just so happen to find love in the most unexpected place. It’s amazing to have positive representation in books that display love breaking all barriers! The book is available EVERYWHERE today so be sure to check it out, and let us know what you think. #PrinceandKnight #LoveHasNoBoundaries #BeeAReader
Q: When you were growing up what were some of your favorite children’s books, and how is Prince & Knight similar or different from them?
I definitely loved a lot of epic adventures in cool and different worlds, so anything with pirates or dinosaurs or dragons or wizards or outer space. I really wanted Prince & Knight to have that same feel, and one of my favorite parts of the story is the action sequence when they work together to defeat the dragon and both get to be the hero. I also loved classics like Frog and Toad Are Friends and The Little Engine That Could, so I liked injecting some of that same sweetness into my book.
Q: You were raised in Wisconsin, one of the first states to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, although it lags behind on protections from discrimination based on gender identity. How can Wisconsin’s history set a positive example for today’s lawmakers in Wisconsin to pass transgender-inclusive protections? And how can other states, the nearly 30 without any state-level protections, look to Wisconsin as a reason to pass LGBTQ nondiscrimination?
Wisconsin was actually the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation all the way back in the eighties. I remember learning about it in high school, and I believe there had been a lot of bipartisan support, which I remember thinking was very cool. Wisconsin has a great progressive tradition, and I think legislation like this helps make it a welcoming place and are some of the reasons the state has been able to thrive and develop a forward-thinking economy. Midwesterners in general have a great sense of being neighborly and being fair and just, and my hometown of Mount Horeb actually made national news recently when it rallied in support of a young trans kid in the community and celebrated with a reading of I Am Jazz, which is a great picture book that helps kids understand gender identity. It seems like some lawmakers don’t consider it a pressing issue, but these are very fundamental protections for one of our most vulnerable communities, and I hope they see my hometown as an example of the support there is from everyday citizens.
Q: It’s important to pass laws like LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, but another component of social change is cultural – how do you think Prince & Knight will help push along that necessary social change and understanding of LGBTQ kids? And how can that change work to compel progress at the policy level?
It’s a lot like how Joe Biden talked about how Will & Grace helped usher in support same-sex marriage. Depending on their circumstances, a lot of Americans might have still limited exposure to LGBTQ people or issues, but media portrayals like this help to introduce and familiarize and help people connect over similarities and learn to appreciate differences. At its core, Prince & Knight is really about sacrifice and bravery and young love, and it doesn’t unnecessarily scandalize the romance at the center of it all. I think that’s a good message for all kids, and it’s one that can inform how they respect others and understand the world around them.
Excited to be partnering with @LittleBeeBooks with their release of Prince & Knight! A sweet story of a Prince and a Knight finding love that all families will enjoy.❤ We had so much fun dressing up and reading with the twins! Written by @DanielHaack and illustrated by @ChocoSweete, this great book is in stores TODAY! #PrinceandKnight #BeeAReader #sponsored