Written by: Alex Gino
Illustrated by: N/A
For Ages: 8-12 years (chapter book)
Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Family, Trans Experience.
Summary: George knows she’s a girl, but other people don’t. This chapter book follows the self-acceptance and coming out of a young girl. George wants to be Charlotte in the school play, but the role is only for a girl. She secretly looks at beauty magazines and wishes she were friends with the glossy images. These characters are beautifully developed for a young adult novel, and have very believable reactions and dialogue with each other. George and her teenage brother Scott have a hardworking single mother, and she does her very best to accept George towards the end of the book but she has a very typical reaction at first, of being rather caught off-guard. George’s best friend Kelly is unwaveringly supportive, and helps George make a plan to reveal herself not only as Charlotte but as a girl to everyone.
This book is beautiful, and the unexpected twists and turns make it hard to put down. The plot explores a young mind from that believable perspective-unsure yet sure at the same time, nervous but yearning to break free. Character development and tender exchanges between George and Scott were unexpected and welcomed, Scott accepts George immediately. The end of the novel is particularly heartwarming, it features Kelly scheming to bring George along on a trip with Kelly’s uncle (who does not know George) so that George may dress how she likes and go by her chosen name of Melissa. Melissa and Kelly have the best day at the zoo, and the end of the book ends on a positive note with Melissa looking forward to the rest of her life.
- How do you think George feels when Kelly and Scott accept her, and don’t think she’s “weird” for knowing she’s a girl?
- How do you feel when your friends accept what you tell them things about yourself?
- What is your favorite part of the book, and why?
- Why is it important to always be yourself, even if it might be a little scary sometimes?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Put on your own production of Charlotte’s Web! Do you think that only girls should be cast as Charlotte, and boys as Wilbur? Explore non-traditional casting, and see how creative you can make your rendition of this classic play.
- Have an activity (like a carnival) where people can dress-up like their alter-ego, or be whoever they want! Have attendees introduce themselves as whoever they want-maybe their true selves, their future career title, or maybe they already are living as exactly who they want to be!
- Do some more in-depth research about trans youth organizations in your area, what can you do to help them? Have a supply drive for items they need, or volunteer to spread their message of hope and inclusion.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Alex Gino (they/them) loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. They would take a quiet coffee date with a friend over a loud and crowded party any day. A former LSAT tutor who never touched law school, Alex can still talk your ear off about sufficient and necessary conditions. Born and raised on Staten Island, NY, Alex has lived in Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY; Astoria (Queens), NY; Northampton, MA; and Oakland, CA. In April 2016, they put their books and furniture in storage for what became an 18-month road trip through 44 states. They are now happily settled back into East Bay Area life. Alex has been an activist and advocate for LGBTQ+ communities since 1997, when they became co-chair of what was then called the LGBA at the University of Pennsylvania. It was renamed the QSA the year after they left. Coincidence? Unlikely. They are proud to have served on the board of NOLOSE, a fat-positive, queer, feminist organization dedicated to supporting radical fat acceptance and culture. Alex would like to thank the Black women and other amazing BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color) folk of NOLOSE who raised their consciousness about race and how racism permeates our culture. Alex is now excited to work with We Need Diverse Books to bring powerful, thoughtful panels to book and publishing conferences.