While this story is inspiring, "stick them with pins" may not be the best parental advice. A more viable role model for children in similar circumstances might be Oliver Button, the main character in Tomie DePaola's children's book Oliver Button Is a Sissy, to be performed as a musical by the Heartland Men's Chorus this weekend with live narration by the author.
Oliver likes things that boys aren't supposed to like, which makes him the victim of endless taunting. When he takes up dance lessons -- "especially for the exercise," says his broad-shouldered father -- he practices constantly despite his tormentors' name-calling. His peers finally praise him when he gives a stellar performance at a talent show.
DePaola calls the story "autobiographical fiction." He liked to dance when he was a boy, and, he says, "I did, indeed, get called a sissy. But I marched to the sound of my own drummer. I was very proud of my shiny black tap shoes."
Oliver Button Is a Sissy counters gender stereotypes, but it's also a book about self-esteem and following one's own vision. DePaola has been asked if Oliver Button is gay. "Oliver Button is four," he says, "so I don't really think sexuality's an issue. It's about a boy who wants to do something very badly."