Monday 7 September 2015

George, Alex Gino

Pages: 240
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 3rd September 2015
Edition: UK hardback, review copy

Be who you are.

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 for ever. Then her teacher announces that 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 see who she really is.

I went into George with slight trepidation as it’s being heaped with praise on both sides of the pond, but it's all justified. A sweet and important debut.

Melissa is a girl who is seen by the rest of the world as a boy called George. She’s 10 years old and has known for a while who she really is. It’s not until she’s told she can’t play Charlotte in the school play because her teacher sees her as a boy that it becomes time to tell someone. In straightforward, clean prose, Gino captures the stress, anger, humour, and hope in Melissa’s situation.

As Melissa battled with her desire to play Charlotte, she began to reveal her true identity to those around her. Serious best friend points go to Kelly for being awesome – everyone needs a friend like her. There was a myriad of reactions to Melissa’s news but the book ended on a strong, happy and hopeful note which is so important for struggling kids to read – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

I also think I may have missed a serious childhood right-of-passage: I’ve never read Charlotte’s Web and I clearly need to rectify that. I loved how passionate about defending Charlotte Melissa is and there’s a particular few lines towards the beginning of the novel about the importance of empathising with fictional characters that I love. Here it is:

“…it takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination.”

George is a short, sweet novel that will give hope and courage to struggling kids. I sincerely hope it makes it into libraries, schools and home everywhere.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy.


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