The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans, by Johnny Valentine, is a collection of five original fairy tales: The Frog Prince, The Eagle Rider, the Dragon Sense, The Ogre's Boots and The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans. Embedded within the stories are a cast of gay and lesbian characters.
In The Frog Prince, a little boy is adopted by two fathers. With this little boy's help, a frog becomes a prince again and is also adopted by the fathers. In The Eagle Rider, a young girl fulfills her dream of becoming an Eagle Rider whose job it is to watch out for dragons even though this is a privilege reserved for boys. In Dragon Sense, a young boy and his lesbian mothers are so poor they cannot pay the rent until the boy hears of an old treasure guarded by a dragon. The Ogre's Books tells a story of Little Jenny who is too small to do much, except save one of her mothers from the hungry giant ogre.
The final story is The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans. When the Duke's parents go away an! d leave him in charge, the people of the village are devastated. Not only does he outlaw jelly beans, but anyone who does not have a mother and father is sent to prison. The children of this town see to it that they and their friends are not sent to jail. They strut about the town imitating the Duke and making silly speeches. Horses, for example, are forbidden to burp and pet goldfish have to be toilet trained. As the adults begin to think about these children's comments, they find it difficult to listen to and obey the Duke's speeches.
Many children and adults will find humor in Valentine's fairy tales. These stories are a humorous and needed addition to those which illustrate positive images of gay characters, including gay and lesbian parents. The illustrations are sparsely laid out in the book, but the text is full of imagination. Through the several color illustrations, various races are depicted. The stories do not focus on the gay and lesbian families, except for the! Duke who wants to imprison children who either have too ma! ny mothers or fathers, or not enough. This infusion of lesbian and gay people in peripheral positions in books for children is a refreshing change. These are truly stories for six- and seven-year-old children (and older) because they are not so much explanatory books as they are fanciful tales that all children should be able to relate to.