George by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
George knows she is a girl. She doesn’t correct people’s misconceptions about her gender. Kelly, her best friend, accepts George as she is, as does her family. But when George auditions for Charlotte in the primary school production of Charlotte’s Web’ she is informed by the teacher that the role is only given to girls. And George was born a boy.
George does want the rest of the world to see that she is a girl, but she is not sure if she is quite ready to share her true inner self. She will need bravery, strength and the support of those close to her.
This is a beautiful and unique story of growth and blossoming awareness. There are no dramatic moments, or exploration of ‘issues’, just a simply told story of what it is like to be a transgender child in a conservative world. It shows the struggle Mom goes through to understand her child, the unquestioning acceptance of best friend Kelly and her brother Scott, and how the school helps George.
It is important for children to read about lives, emotions and problems which may differ from their own. It is also important for children who are facing these feelings to have access to literature in which they may recognise themselves and their feelings. This story addresses questions about transgender in a fast middle-grade read which is entertaining and non-confrontational.
The more children can read stories such as this one, the more inclusive our communities have the potential to become. Perhaps the power of such stories is that they open up difficult conversations, paving the way for greater understanding and acceptance.