by Alex Gino
AR Level 5.0, 4 points
I was afraid to let my students read this book. I was afraid I’d get disgruntled parents or weirded out kids, because it is about a transgender girl and her being honest with her loved ones. I thought I’d have students who were less open-minded, who didn’t think George was normal, or who would talk badly about the book because of the topic. I am very happy to say (and I hope I’m not jinxing myself) that there has been nothing but positive feedback.
George follows a transgender girl named George who is not yet open with her mom, brother, or best friend Kelly, but she knows she is not really a boy, despite appearances and her genitalia (which is briefly mentioned in the book, just so you know). She wants desperately to play Charlotte in the school production of Charlotte’s Web, but the teacher won’t cast her, since she is not technically a girl. George and Kelly find a way to sidestep this minor problem so George can help her mom (and her classmates) identify her as a girl. Kelly even finds a way for George to be Melissa for a day.
What I liked about this book… where do I begin? First of all, it is probably the first of it’s kind, and it’s been a long time coming. I know not everyone is accepting of the LGBT community, but the fact is, there have always been and will always be lesbians, gays, and transpeople, so we as teachers have to teach tolerance and respect. I tell my students they don’t have to like everyone, but they have to be respectful. Hopefully, George will open my students’ eyes to the fact that this is a reality and a struggle that people have to go through. We can either be accepting and tolerant, or we can make their lives harder. I hope they choose wisely.
What I didn’t like about this book was Kelly. She was pretty annoying and unrealistic. I’m not sure most people would immediately embrace their best friend being transgender without blinking. I know I would at least take time to take it in, but Kelly didn’t even blink. She must be a better person than I am. I also didn’t like how aware they were for fourth graders. I know fourth graders who play with Barbies and eat their boogers. I think this would have been more realistic if they were sixth or seventh graders. Just a few years makes all the difference in perspective.
I would absolutely recommend this book, but I would also let readers know it is a sensitive topic, and they do mention balls and his private parts floating between his legs in the water. That may require some level of maturity.
Book 30 of 40 (year 2)