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George

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
George Book Poster Image
Fourth-grader George identifies as a girl in tender tale.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Parents and teachers can use this book to talk about a wide variety of topics, including what it means to be transgender and how to stand up for someone being bullied. The author bio on the cover refers to the author's book as "their first novel," which may confuse children. The author identifies as "genderqueer" and uses the gender-neutral pronoun "they" rather than "he" or "she"; parents may need to explain this.

Positive Messages

Be true to yourself. Be tolerant of others, even if they're different in a way that's hard for you to understand.

Positive Role Models & Representations

George finds many supportive advocates, but her greatest ally is her best friend Kelly, who even shares her starring role with her and lends her clothes so she can spend the day as Melissa. George/Melissa learns to increasingly be herself and to tell others about her secret. George's older brother shows George how to clear the browsing history when using their mom's computer. He also mentions looking at porn and "dirty" magazines as something boys do.

Violence

Some kids taunt George. She gets punched by a school bully and throws up.

Sex

Some people, such as George's older brother, Scott, assumes George is gay, but she says she doesn't "know who she liked, really, boys or girls." The book deals with sexual identity, but there's no sexual activity. Scott mentions looking at porn and "dirty" magazines as something boys do. Young readers who don't know what the word "porn" means may be inclined to look it up. There's a reference to George's private parts during a bath: “She immersed her body in the warm water and tried not to think about what was between her legs, but there it was, bobbing in front of her.” Scott, asks, in a kid-like way, if George wants sexual reassignment surgery this passage: “So, like, do you want to”—he made a gesture with two fingers like a pair of scissors—“go all the way?” George squeezed her legs together. “Maybe someday,” she said.

Language

Some bullies call George a "freak."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that George is a book about a transgender fourth-grader who increasingly learns to be herself and to tell others about her secret. Along the way, she finds many supportive advocates, but her greatest ally is her best friend, Kelly. Some kids taunt George, and she's called a freak and gets punched by a school bully. Some people, such as George's brother, assume George is gay, but she says she doesn't "know who she liked, really, boys or girls." The book deals with sexual identity, but there's no sexual activity. George's older brother mentions looking at porn and "dirty" magazines as something boys do. Young readers who don't know what the word "porn" means may be inclined to look it up. Parents and teachers can use this book to talk about a wide variety of topics, including what it means to be transgender and to how to stand up for someone being bullied. Editor's note: In the story, George's older brother shows George how to clear the browsing history after using Mom's computer. George then does this after searching the internet for transgender information. In the Common Sense K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum we advise families and educators to empower kids to think critically about the websites they visit. However, families may choose to review their kids' browsing history to make sure they're making safe choices online.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byChildren'sBookNook December 1, 2015

Confusing to children

The whole basis of this book is sexuality and sexual identity even though it is written for a middle grade audience. George can cause confusion and raise questi... Continue reading
Adult Written byrcoughler March 30, 2016

An excellent insight

I am wiring this review to clarify a point in another review. They mention that there is a high level of sexuality in this book because it discusses transgender... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 28, 2016

Touching story

The story line of this book is really good with some good messages about being who you are and accepting yourself rather than beating yourself up over it. Some... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylolagirl August 18, 2016

Way to inapropriate

My summer reading was to read this and few other books. I am 12 and i found this book inappropriate because of references to the male private part.This talks a... Continue reading

What's the story?

GEORGE is about a transgender fourth-grader. George may have been born in a boy's body, but she knows she's really a girl. For example, when her class stages Charlotte's Webshe wants to audition for Charlotte, not a boy's part. She gets teased by boys in class ("You're such a freak. You're a freak. Freak. Freak"), but finds amazing support in her best friend, Kelly, and in her older brother. But what will her mother say when Gorge gets the courage to tell her she's a girl named Melissa?

Is it any good?

Alex Gino's simply and tenderly written story will help kids -- and parents -- understand what it feels like to be transgender. George hates the body she was born with, gets teased at school, and worries her mother won't accept her if she learns her big secret. Readers will quickly understand that George is really a girl and cheer her growing ability to live as herself, even if her coming out seems a bit fast.

There's not a lot of new territory covered here, but there are some simple and lovely moments, such as when George's older brother simply says, "Weird. But it makes sense," when he hears George's secret, or when her supportive friend Kelly helps her pick an outfit so she can spend a day as Melissa.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be transgender. What would it be like to feel as though you were born into the wrong physical body?

  • Do you think George's story seems realistic? Is it getting easier for kids today to let their true selves shine through?

  • George gets bullied and even gets into a physical fight. What would you do if you saw one of your classmates being picked on?

Book details

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