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written by Lori Starling
illustrated by Anita DuFalla

It’s the first day of school, and Toby is dressed in their best and ready to make new friends! But first, Toby’s new classmates want to know: Is Toby a boy or a girl? Toby isn’t sure how to answer. Toby likes to wear basketball shorts and tutus. Toby plays ninjas and dances ballet. Finally, after a little thought and some encouragement from Mom, Toby has a declaration to make: they can eat, wear, do, or be anything they want! Toby isn’t a boy or a girl—Toby is just Toby!

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Meet the Author

Lori Starling is a writer, poet, amateur ukulele player, and lover of all things Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Sylvia Plath. Through their writing, they strive to create realistic worlds for their readers to explore, where marginalized voices are heard and empowered.

Starling holds an MFA in creative writing, as well as a BA in English & creative writing with various associate degrees. In addition to their writing shenanigans on, their writing can be seen in places like One Green Planet, Life in 10 Minutes Lit Magazine, and Beyond Queer Words: A Collection of Poems. Recently, they have co-founded Clay Literary, which houses two weekly online publications: FLEDGLING and RAVEN. Toby Wears a Tutu is their first children’s book.

Press Kit


Formats:  Hardcover, Paperback, E-book

Pages:  32

ISBN HC: 978-1-951565-38-1

ISBN PB: 978-1-951565-39-8

ISBN EB: 978-1-951565-40-4

Release Date: 1/12/2021


“I fell in love with Toby the moment I read this book. Gorgeous illustrations bring Toby’s captivating personality to life as they bravely face the challenge to be authentic and honest with their new friends. Toby’s mom is another totally inspirational character; no wonder Toby is such an amazing little human. Toby Wears a Tutu is a wonderful addition to any child’s bookshelf.” —Ellie Royce, author of Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero published by Pow! Kids Books

“This gentle story follows gender non-conforming Toby as they learn how to explain their choices to their new classmates. Brightly colored and warmhearted, this is a wonderful story for young readers.” —Maia Kobabe, author of Gender Queer: A Memoir

Toby Wears a Tutu is a heartwarming story about learning to love who you are, regardless of what others might think of you. Even if a child doesn’t identify the same way as Toby, all children can relate to Toby’s feelings and learn a valuable lesson about appreciating diversity and learning acceptance. As an underrepresented minority in literature, Lori Starling has crafted a beautiful story, showing how loving one’s self builds self-esteem and confidence in all children. I would feel extremely comfortable reading this book to my kindergarteners and cannot wait to do so.” —Mary Russell, kindergarten teacher

Toby Wears a Tutu sends a powerful message to children: acceptance. Starling and DuFalla tackle the difficult topic of gender roles with a young person in a whimsical, heartfelt manner that can only be found through the bravery of a child. They invite an important discussion that starts with gender and encapsulates ‘othering’ experienced by young people. They combine beautiful imagery with powerful words that make Toby Wears a Tutu a must for any child’s bookshelf.” —Jeremy Flagg, MFA, author, and SNHU creative writing professor

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