Author Alex Gino
Genre Children’s, Contemporary, GSD (LGBT+)
Page Length 215
Publication Date 25 Aug 2015
Publisher Scholastic Press
Read Dates 20-23 Aug 2017
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her (4th grade) teacher announces their class play is going to be “Charlotte’s Web.” George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part …because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
This is an expanded version of the review I originally posted on GR right after finishing the book. I decided to try something new and tell a little about my personal experiences in this review. Let me know what you think, do you like reviews to have a personal feel, or should I just shut up and talk about the book only?
I’m an emotional mess right now! This is a really important book that should be in every school library.
Let’s just quickly get something said and out of the way. I am not transgender, I was born a male and have always identified as one. I am a white, cis male. I would consider myself as an advocate for gender and sexuality rights. If you know me, you know I believe we should all be accepted as equal, and the differences in our character/identity/abilities should be accepted and/or celebrated. *makes a daisy chain to put in his hair*
I used to work at a project that supported children that were being sexually exploited. During this time, we worked with people that were either transitioning or questioning their gender and from a mix of sexualities. We also had a really good mix of people from different cultures, ethnicities and ‘class’ *shudders at that term*. Although I would never pretend to know exactly what it is like to go through the struggles that some of these people faced, I do believe that I have some understanding of the issues.
As well as being a white, cis male I also happen to be asexual. This means I am not sexually attracted to other people. (I do get attracted to people, but it’s an intellectual attraction rather than sexual). I knew I was asexual from a very young age (although I didn’t know it had a name), and I never really struggled with it personally. I easily accepted that girl/boyfriends were a thing that other people had, but that it wasn’t for me – I was happy just trying to be everybody’s friend. Unfortunately, there were people in my life that struggled with my sexuality and simply could not understand how someone could be asexual. For them, you were either gay or straight. I didn’t like girls, and therefore I must have been gay (they missed the point that I also didn’t like boys) and being gay deserved to be punished with severe daily beatings that regularly escalated to attempted murder. So, I do know what it is like to not be accepted for who you are, and to be persecuted for things that are completely natural and out of your control.
Yea, alright Stark, but what does this have to do with books?! TALK ABOUT BOOKS ALREADY! OK, OK, I just wanted to set up why it is that I actively try and seek out books that tackle issues of inequality. Mainly just because it makes my hippy heart warm to read about people overcoming such wrongs. Yea, very nice, we’ll sing kumbaya around the campfire tonight, but what about this book?! Oh, this book – yea, it’s bloody marvellous it is.
George is a 10yr old transgender girl. Other people see George as a 10 year old boy. George has a burning desire to play Charlotte in the school play of Charlotte’s Web, partly because who doesn’t want to play a lead role amiright?! and partly in order to show other people that she is a girl, and not the boy everyone keeps identifying her as being.
I loved the story – even though it did open with a pretty major spoiler for Charlotte’s Web! The balance between sadness and heart-warming moments was perfect. There are times when I just wanted to scream ”She’s not a he. Stop calling her a he!” and times that smiled a lot and my face got wet. This part in particular really got me in the feels:
Kelly shrugged. “That’s cool. If you want to be Charlotte, you should try out for Charlotte. You make such a big deal out of everything. Who cares if you’re not really a girl?”
George’s stomach dropped. She cared. Tons.
What I really like about this story is that it isn’t trying to preach to anyone. The closest I felt this got to preaching is the following:
”But that’s not fair!” Kelly was indignant. “You didn’t steal them! What right does she have to take them from you?”
“Sometimes transgender people don’t get rights.” George had read on the Internet about transgender people being treated unfairly.
The rest of the time we are simply following George on her struggle with how everyone keeps treating her as a boy and the battle she has with how to challenge the issue with the people around her that are ignorant to the fact there even is an issue. This is the correct way to educate people – show the struggles people face, and then show how we (as a wider society) can deal with the issue.
One of my favourite lines comes from the school principal:
”Well, you can’t control who your children are, but you can certainly support them, am I right?”
YES! Yes Principal Maldonado, you are right. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s a parent’s duty to support their child to be whoever they are. It is the duty of every parent, family member, and adult working with children to empower them to become the best person they can be. A major part of that is to break down the stigmas attached to gender roles, sexuality, ethnicity and abilities and to create an environment where children can grow up to be free to be themselves – whatever shape or colour that happens to be. I promise, nothing bad will come from us doing this – I am certain of it.
Oh Kelly. How wonderful you are. Kelly is George’s best friend and does everything right to support George in coming out as trans. I really hope when they get older that George can look back and appreciate even more how much Kelly did for her. Yes, I am aware that they are fictional characters but THEY WERE REAL TO ME! I am also definitely absolutely certain that there will be a real life George and a Kelly out there right now.
Read this book. Just read it. It’s a super quick and easy read. But be warned, it’s probably not best to read it whilst on a really busy train. There is a limit to how many times you can pretend you just have something in your eye when there is an old woman sat across from you giving you a sympathetic smile. I would imagine…
Anyway, I’m off to reread Charlotte’s Web. Peace and Love.