The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


GEORGE by Alex Gino

Forget for a second that this is a "hot topic" story. Given publishing's lead time, there's no way Scholastic could have predicted the surge in conversations regarding transsexuality two years ago, but here's the thing: GEORGE by Alex Gino is not a "trans" book. Well, it is, in that it's about a trans child, but it's really about so much more than that. It's the story of a child trying to figure out who she is, just as all children do. This child just happens to be a boy who happens to identify as female.

While adults with years of programmed prejudice to combat may have a harder time wrapping their heads around this, children who are presented with the realities of George's situation will approach it much more matter-of-factly. To them, she has obstacles to overcome, as does the main character in any book they read. The author makes George's struggles accessible and real, as she goes from worry over keeping her secret to coming to terms with the truth, and revealing it to her friends and family.

George is a fourth grader born as a boy but sees herself as a girl. Finding empowerment through an unlikely source -- the class production of CHARLOTTE'S WEB -- George begins to connect with who she really is, and understand that being true to oneself is the most important thing.

In an interview with NPR, author Alex Gino hope GEORGE will show trans kids they aren't alone. While a book so honest and real no doubt will transform the lives of kids in similar situations as George, publisher Scholastic believes the book is for everyone. I completely agree. Anyone can see themselves in George's story, in some way, shape or form -- whether you're the main character, the parent, sibling, teacher or best friend. All are people who should be allies, and can make or break the coming out experience.

But Gino does something amazing, making the trans part rather secondary although it is the main driver. It's told as a typical coming of age, middle grade book -- and after a few chapters, the reader becomes so comfortable with George's gender identification that it seems completely natural, as it should.

Ultimately, the world needs more mass market books with trans main characters, and I'd be willing to be that in the coming months and years more will arrive. IMO, any story that positively expands a child's life-view (whether they are trans or a future-ally) is worth reading and discussing. We are all human beings, and shouldn't have to hide who we truly are. GEORGE does a wonderful job of nailing this truth.

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