George

georgeWritten by Alex Gino

I’ve had this book for awhile and just picked it back up. And now I’m at a loss at what to do with the book.

Let me start by saying that I think the idea of the story is a great one and kudos to the author for creating George. Being transgender is still one of those things, I think, that’s not talked about openly, and it’s not looked at as an acceptable thing.

George’s class is doing a play of Charlotte’s Web and George REALLY wants to be Charlotte. She’s worried that her teacher won’t let her play the part, because on the outside, she’s very much a boy, but in her heart, she knows that she’s a girl. A girl named Melissa. Lucky for George, she has a great friend named Kelly. When Kelly finds out that George thinks of herself as a girl, Kelly is ecstatic and she finally has a girl friend to do things with. Kelly invites George to go to the zoo and offers to help her dress up, as Melissa. They go to the zoo in skirts, make-up, and new hair styles. Kelly’s uncle has no idea that Melissa is actually George, and that makes George/Melissa extremely happy and feel comfortable in her own body.

George’s mom is not so understanding, at first. She finds George’s “girl” magazines under her bed and tells her that it’s not cute anymore and she’d better not find George in her room. George is of course, crushed and feels that her mom won’t understand that she feels like a girl. Eventually, she realizes that it’ll all be okay, but George still isn’t convinced that she’ll be okay if George wants to dress up, talk about surgery, and take medication all at once.

George’s older brother, Scott, is very much a boy— he likes to play video games, his mom calls him disgusting and he thinks talking about bodily functions and dissecting worms at the dinner table is acceptable. When Scott finds out the George thinks of herself as a girl, he’s okay with it. He’s the ideal big brother in a situation like this.

Now, Novelist says ages 9-12, and common sense media says ages 9 and up. The words are easy, but some of the content makes me think ages 12-15. There is a part where George is in the bathtub and she doesn’t want to think about what’s between her legs, but there it is, bobbing in the water. Another part is the confusion at the zoo when George realizes he has to go to the bathroom. The paragraph goes on to explain how Kelly drags her into the women’s bathroom, and while in the stall, George admires her underwear with the little heart designs that Kelly let her borrow, and how she sat down to pee, just like a girl.

I really liked the transgender character and her story, but I’m just not convinced it’s the greatest book to have in an elementary school library.

Review by Allyson Rolfe, Granger Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 stars)
Interest Level: 5-8

George
Written by Alex Gino
Scholastic Press
195 pages
Release Date: August 25, 2015

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