Parents know how important it is to read to their kids. Because, as Mama Ru taught us, reading is what? Fundamental. Fundamental to a child’s intellectual growth, language acquisition, and social development. The best children's books are the ones that can be enjoyed by both parent and child. Thankfully the delightful new children’s book Noodle and the No Bones Day is just such a book.
Written by out, queer TikTok star Jonathan Graziano and with fantastic artwork by Dan Tavis, Noodle and the No Bones Day is more than a cute story about a man and his dog. Based on a series of viral TikToks about the adorable senior dog named Noodle and his stubborn refusal to leave his bed, Noodle and the No Bones Day is a sweet story extolling the importance of self-care. Graziano (with Noodle snoozing nearby) sat down with Gays with Kids to chat about his lovely new picture book, the wave of book banning across certain parts of America, his queer identity, and if his DM’s are open.
Graziano never meant to be a media personality, let alone an author. He started his TikToks mostly to “combat the existential dread of being trapped in our apartment for months,” during the nationwide Covid lockdown. Originally posting little videos of his life with Noodle, Graziano started adding simple hashtags in niche categories such as #seniordog and #elderpug. He merely hoped to connect with other older pet/pug lovers. But the 14-year-old Noodle had other plans, as the clips of the pooch being unwilling to move from his comfy bed quickly went viral. Noodle and Graziano soon found themselves cultivating 4.6 million (and counting) followers on TikTok.
Noodle’s need to relax and stay inside, rather than his typical activity of daily walks and “screaming at people on the corner” led Graziano to coin the term “Bones or No Bones Day” in order to document his dog’s daily decisions. Noodle and the No Bones Day showcases the sweetness of the TikTok videos perfectly. It is a joyful story explaining that “Bones Days” are when Noodle enthusiastically adventures outside their New York City apartment, while the “No Bones Days” are spent in bed, with snuggles and belly rubs and snacks galore (especially chicken, Noodle’s favorite).
While Graziano has been featured in various articles and interviewed by NPR and the Today Show, he has, until now, not expressly addressed his queerness. Openly out, Graziano never intended to hide his queer identity. He was happy to take a back seat to Noodle and not make it about himself.
“It never crossed my mind that everyone would know I was gay. I’m so perpetually gay and always have been,” Graziano says before adding, “it’s just such a huge part of who I am, it’s not something I’ve considered as a need to hide.” Graziano is proud to be “a part of a wave of content creators to post as my authentic self” adding with a laugh “even when I was in the closet it was more of a screen door.”
As a queer person in the public eye promoting his new book, Graziano looks forward to using his voice to support resources and charities benefiting the LGBTQ+ community.
The newly minted author is particularly concerned about the wave of book banning hitting America. Graziano is clear to state that anyone who champions these bans is “telling on themselves.” These efforts only reveal their bigotry, hate, and fear-mongering which “brings unnecessary harm to our society” he says. “It’s weird to me that banning books it’s not weird, because it makes perfect sense from a certain political perspective,” Graziano says frankly. “It’s an archaic way to force culture. Even if it’s destructive.”
While Noodle is the undisputed star of the bones or no bones day TikTok’s it is Graziano’s openness and charismatic charm that brings it all to life. One has to wonder if his DMs are as open as he is. “I don’t have a boyfriend,” Graziano says with a chuckle, before quickly confirming that “people have been slipping into my DM’s asking for dates.” Hopefully, anyone lucky enough to take Graziano out will also bring along a snack for Noodle too (hint: chicken is a good place to start).