Number 35 of 150

Representation of queer, or at least non-traditional, gender expressions was an important part of this project.

So far, we’ve had some characters that were deliberately ambiguous on gender, presenting as more-or-less androgenous. Today’s character is a little different. They’re wearing traditionally female clothing, but their hair and facial features are drawn using visual cues that typically read as masculine. However, I tried to make it ambiguous enough that it still wasn’t entirely clearcut. Personally, I’d hesitate to guess how this child identifies. I’d have to ask for their pronouns.

I’m not certain I got the age to read quite right. They may look a little older than they should.

A child, aged 7-9, stands with one hand up as if gesturing.  They are wearing a yellow button-up dress, with a long-sleeved t-shirt and leggings underneath. They're wearing red high-top sneakers and glasses.  The child is Middle Eastern and has a larger body type.  Their gender is ambiguous, but it possibly reads a little more male than female.

Number 33 of 150

Now we start the 7-9 age range. From here on out you’ll note that we have put all the characters in modest dress, though in this age range, the girls still have their heads uncovered. Since people with Middle Eastern heritage are often (though not exclusively) Muslim, we wanted to honor that by at least not showing lots of skin in this batch. But since our market is primarily US-based, we wanted to reflect what Americans Muslims of Middle Eastern descent typically wear. Therefore, we chose not to put girls in the 7-9 age range in hijabs, but you will see hijabs in the older age ranges.

A Middle Eastern girl, aged 7-9, stands with both arms as if gesturing while talking.  She's wearing a wrap-style shirt over a t-shirt, jeans, and flats. Her medium-dark brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 15

Page 14 doesn’t have an image, so we skip on to page 15 from The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. This is the last illustration and the end of the book.

It’s not a completely happy ending because, even though Leena’s back in her own home, Amaya’s family lost their house. This is supposed to be a “tough subjects” series, so a not entirely happy ending is appropriate. But it’s not all bad because Amaya has sent Leena a letter saying how they found a place to live and are doing okay. They even sent pictures.

I made sure it’s the same couch and wall as page 4 so it’s definitely the same house. It comes full circle.

An illustration for page 15 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  A girl curled up on her couch leans back against her mother who is sitting beside her.  The girl is reading a letter and the mother is looking at some photo prints.  They are both smiling.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 4

Here’s the second illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 4 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. This scene is in a cloud to show that it’s a flashback to the previous day when they family had all packed their emergency supplies in preparation to evacuate if the fires got too near. You can see a collection of emergency supplies laid out on the floor ready to be packed into duffle bags, one per person. Mama is putting a tag on little Amir’s ankle so that he can be reunited with the family if he gets separated.

An illustration for page 4 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.