by Alex Gino. Novel. 208 pages. Grades 3-7.
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George is transgender. She knows that she is a girl, but she has a boy's body and everyone treats her as a boy since she hasn't told anyone her secret. However, things are becoming unbearable.
Her fourth-grade class is putting on a play version of Charlotte's Web and she desperately wants to play Charlotte. In talking about why to her best friend, Kelly, she eventually admits that she thinks she's a girl. After a week of extreme awkwardness Kelly declares that, "If you think you're a girl than I think you're a girl!" and tackles George with a hug.
Things with her mother do not go as smoothly. When his mother discovers George's secret stash of girl magazines about make-up and fashion she is very harsh, confiscating the magazines and telling George that although it was cute when "he" dressed up as a girl at the age of 3 "he" is too old for it to be cute. She further explains that it would be alright if "he" was gay, but not "that kind of gay."
George is heartbroken and comes up with a dramatic plan which she hopes will make her mother "see" that she really is a girl.
This gentle book is a wonderful vehicle for insight into what it must be like to be transgender. The author's use of all female pronouns for George, even while everyone is treating her as a boy, creates instant empathy in the reader. The pronoun's simple truth makes it easier for us to understand her own inner experience and the tension she feels between that and how she is perceived.
Anything, like this book, which promotes understanding can help prevent bullying and encourage understanding in non-transgender youth. For transgender students or those questioning their gender identity a book like this can be very liberating, give much needed hope, and literally save a life.
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Related Areas Within Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Web Site
- Our Favorite LGBT Books for Kids and Teens: An annotated book list of recommended titles for preschool through ninth grade.