It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
Last Week’s Books:
UnSouled by Neal Shusterman was an excellent foray into the world he created in Unwind. The reader gets to see favorite characters split up, in new situations, and then united again (or at least some of them). In addition, Shusterman further extrapolations what the biotechnology of unwinding would bring to our world: putting prisoner’s parts to good use, an endless array of vanity surgeries, and attempts at living forever. It also makes quite a statement about politics and the manipulation of the public by government and corporations. Furthermore, Shusterman provides insight into the creators of unwind technology and their horror at the use of what was created in good faith. I certainly will be picking up UnDivided, the series-ending book, soon.
I was surprised to receive an ARC (book to be published in August) in my most recent purchase from Scholastic’s book club flyers. A note accompanied George by Alex Gino, soliciting feedback as the character “faces head-on a complex subject that is very much in the public discourse.” A website is provided so that educators can answer the following question, “What do you think of George and do you see a place for it in your classroom?” The “complex subject” is that George is a transgender child.
Geroge is a fourth grader who is in a boy’s body yet identifies as female. George lives in a loving home with her mother and older brother and has a best friend, Kelly, but she has not yet gathered up enough courage to share with them that she is a girl. When her teacher, Mrs. Udell reads Charlotte’s Web with the class, George is touched by the story and longs to capture the part of Charlotte in the upcoming play. Only girls may audition for Chalotte’s part, and George is crushed–not only because she has no chance of getting the role, but also because she feels that if her family and friends can see her as a girl spider onstage they will be more likely to see her as a girl in real life. Kelly is very instrumental in supporting George throughout the story and helping her be herself.
Very recently I read Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, and though I think that book was well-done, I think George is the stronger title. First, Polonsky includes an author note that explains her use of “he/his/him” when referring to Grayson because that is how others see him. Gino uses female pronouns immediately, with no explanation, and I think that helps the reader to see George as a girl from the very beginning, just as George does. Both Grayson and George hide belongings that would reveal their secrets–Grayson purchases girl’s clothing at a local thrift shop and begins to wear it under other clothing; George has had her collection of “girl” magazines for years and definitely seems more fearful of being found-out if they are discovered. In fact, while both young people are suffering from having to outwardly live as boys, George exhibits a more visceral reaction, hating the smells, sounds, and sights in the boys’ bathroom and not wanting to look at or think about “the thing between her legs.” George has also informed herself more about transgender people, even researching hormone and surgery options, deleting her search history afterward, of course. Altogether, although both books work towards not only George and Grayson’s self-acceptance and acceptance by others, the inclusion of more details in George makes it the better book.
I will be interested to see whether Scholastic shares the feedback it receives and whether it will be included in its upcoming fall book fairs. The ARC identifies this the grade level as 3-7, so it has the possibility of being included in both elementary and middle school fairs. I, for one, will not only purchase the book for my school libraries, but I hope to see it on those fairs as well. We need diverse books.
Currently Reading/Listening To:
Oh, there are so many…my summer vacation starts on 5/29 🙂