The picture book “Prince & Knight,” by Daniel Haack ’10, starts off in familiar fairy-tale territory: two brave men working together to heroically slay a dragon. But what transforms Haack’s story from cliché to groundbreaking isn’t where the men start; it’s where they end up — in each other’s arms.
Haack, who has won an Emmy Award for his work in children’s media, decided to combine the tropes of Prince Charming and the knight in shining armor into a picture book after he surveyed children’s literature and noticed that LGBTQ characters were rarely represented. He knew that research showed how critical it was for individuals to see their lives reflected in media and popular culture.
“My goal was to expand the idea of what a hero can look like and how they can act,” he said. “It was important that there was no damsel in distress in this book. Instead, there are two brave men who both have heroic moments, slay a dragon, and then embrace and kiss on their wedding day.”
The book is published by Little Bee Books, as part of a partnership with GLAAD. Haack said that GLAAD has worked for decades for positive representations of LGBTQ characters, but that children’s media was, in his words, the final frontier. “I wanted to show the characters in a way that allowed children to understand, accept, and embrace LGBTQ relationships,” he said.
And that’s exactly what’s happened: “We’ve had almost universally positive feedback for the book,” Haack said. “It’s gotten great reviews and a lot of good press, but my favorite is seeing all the photos on social media of gay dads sharing it with their own kids.”
Haack hasn’t finished exploring this world yet. In fact, he’s teamed up with Isabel Galupo ’14, for his next book, titled “Maiden & Princess,” which is due out next year. In this story, a warrior maiden falls in love with the sister of a prince.
Galupo and Haack were both in Ithaca College's Park Scholar Program, and they became friends after graduation, running into each other at Cortaca viewing parties and meetups for Park scholar alumni. “Isabel is a talented writer who is bringing a great perspective to the material,” Haack said. “Working with her was such a fun experience, and it’s really a testament to the Ithaca College alumni community that we developed this partnership.”
Haack, who is a member of the college’s Blue & Gold Society, adds that his time at Ithaca helped him immensely on his journey to being a barrier-breaking author.
“The education you get at the Park School is amazing,” he said. “I’ve worked with so many people who had communications degrees from other schools who didn’t have the hands-on experience or industry knowledge I got at IC. I’m a huge champion of the college. Its LGBTQ reputation was a big deal to me when I was looking at schools, and I couldn’t be prouder that Ithaca has continued its commitment to inclusivity.”