Review of the Week: GEORGE by Alex Gino

George_09-2015Gino, Alex. George. Fiction. Scholastic, 09/2015. 240p. $16.99. 978-0-545-81254-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-6.

A 10-year-old, white, transgender girl, George (or Melissa as she names herself later in the novel), takes first steps toward introducing her true self to the world when she and her best friend Kelly contrive to make her debut as a girl during a school performance of Charlotte’s Web. George/Melissa, who up until this moment has always been perceived as a boy, is a strong, sensitive character. The novel reads like a younger Gracefully Grayson (2014), less heavy though with similar stakes at risk . The writing is perfectly pitched for fourth and fifth graders although Kelly seems at times too good to be true, almost always anticipating and grasping her friend’s needs—would that all transgender children have a friend such as she. The mother’s response to her child’s revelation is more complicated and gets into the misperceptions that many have about what it means to be transgender. This sweet story about a girl gathering the strength to share her secret is an important book that would also work well as a classroom read-aloud or book club selection. Highly recommended for all libraries serving fourth through sixth graders. Review based on an ARC.

Emma Coleman, Berkeley Public Library

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