Children often look up to parents as teachers and guides. They follow their parents’ rules and encouragements (for the most part) and rely on them for support. When we’re children, our parents are the ones to sign us up for sports and lay our clothes out on the bed. But, what if we don’t want to kick a dirty soccer ball or wear that pink frilly dress?

The children’s book Except When They Don’t (little bee books), written by Laura Gehl and Joshua Heinsz, explains that it’s okay for a boy or girl not to like things typically associated with their gender. Gehl and Heinsz created a unique book to help ease children away from the traditional thoughts and stereotypes that society expects of them.

In a fun-loving way, the author and illustrator present activities that boys and girls like to do in their free time through a third-person point of view. For instance, girls fancy baking cakes while boys prefer playing with toy trucks. These choices are well and good, but Gehl and Heinsz also emphasize that the opposite can be true. Boys shouldn’t be discouraged if they enjoy baking cakes more than playing with trucks. Girls can put down their whisks and pick up dump trucks if they feel so inclined.

Girls can enjoy “girly” things and boys can like “boyish” things, except when they don’t. This book is a great way to teach kids that they are free to express themselves and should never hide who they truly are. A lesson that not only children can learn from, but adults too.

I believe this book is an engaging step to changing the way our society perceives “normal” for both girls and boys. Children are easily impressionable and need illustrated examples of acceptance and inclusivity in order to actively promote it in others or to feel comfortable with their own differences. It’s important for them to know that their gender doesn’t have to restrict what kind of choices they make in life.

Parents want a world of opportunities for their children, and to foster confidence in their young ones to take a hold of every option they feel is best. Except When They Don’t is a colorful introduction to cultivating a more inclusive and comfortable lifestyle for the next generation.

Except When They Don’t is now available for purchase.


Laura Gehl has a B.A. in psychology from Yale and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Georgetown. She’s taught reading to little kids and biology to big kids.







Joshua Heinsz is an internationally published illustrator, writer, and designer specializing in markets for children and a focus on character design for animation. He is a graduate of the MFA in Illustration Practice program at MICA and holds his BFA in illustration from SCAD. He has a love for bright and whimsical imagery with a flair for the fantastical and an air of nostalgia. Outside of the studio, Joshua can be found teaching college courses or moonlighting as a group fitness instructor.

If you are looking for a youthful spirit, vivid imagination and propensity for all things bright and joyful for your next project, look no further! Joshua is available for hire to fulfill all of your creative needs. Some of his clients include Little Bee Books, Hachette UK, Sourcebooks, Cricket Media, Cottage Door Press, Auzou Publishing, and more. His resume is also available upon request.

To contact Joshua, please email him at j[email protected]