Melissa by Alex Gino

Published by Scholastic Press Melissa (previously published as GEORGE): 9781338843408: Gino,  Alex: Books

Summary: George has a boy’s body, but she’s always felt she is a girl. She has a secret stash of magazines like Seventeen that she pores over to learn more about girls’ clothes, makeup, and lifestyles. Her fourth grade class is doing a play of Charlotte’s Web, and more than anything, George wants the part of Charlotte. Coached by her best friend Kelly, George decides to try out for Charlotte, but her teacher takes her audition as a joke and instead gives the part to Kelly. As a result of this painful experience, George finally comes out to Kelly, who hatches a plan to allow George to be Charlotte in one of the performances. Reactions to George in this clearly feminine role are mixed, but strong, and ultimately lead to a greater understanding of George by her mother and older brother. While there are no easy answers for George, the book ends on a hopeful note. Grades 4-7.

Pros: Whatever a reader’s views on transgender kids, this book makes a powerful statement about the importance of gender to personal identity, and how narrow society’s definition is on what is masculine and feminine. George would make an interesting read for educators  trying to create schools that are safe and comfortable for all students.

Cons: George addresses a controversial topic, and there will undoubtedly be those who feel it doesn’t belong in an elementary classroom or library.

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