George by Alex Gino

Gino, Alex. George. Scholastic Press, 2015. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-545-81254-2; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-1-51811-632-2


TL;DR: Do I recommend this? YES!!!


Genre: Realistic Contemporary Fiction/LGBTQIA Fiction


Part of a series? No.


Plot Summary:

George has a big secret — she’s a girl. She wishes that she could ask people to call her Melissa; she wants to wear makeup and dresses and perfume. How to tell her family? She doesn’t know what to do. She does know that she wants to be Charlotte in the class play of Charlotte’s Web. She confides this dream to her best friend Kelly, and Kelly encourages her to go for it. Auditions don’t go as planned, however, and when George’s mom finds and confiscates her secret stash of girls’ magazines, it looks like nothing will go George’s way. Will anyone ever accept George for who she is? Or will all of them — bullies like Jeff who beat her up, well-meaning adults like Ms. Udell who refer to her bright future as a wonderful young man, or her mother who refers to George’s interest in girls’ things as “not cute anymore” — crush her spirit and force her to live a life that isn’t right for her?


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

George is a fantastic protagonist. Her voice is so clear that it is almost as though readers are reading the actual diary of a middle school girl. Gino’s writing shines, and their narration never sounds like an adult pretending to be a kid speaking. This book is a must-read for all middle graders (and teachers … and parents … and people in general)! The drama-nerd life is also clearly expressed, and as a drama enthusiast myself, I loved that plotline.


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

I’d love to feature this as a book club book or reading circle choice. A potential activity would be for kids to design the set for a play if we were to stage George as a drama; this would allow for a discussion of what it takes to design a simple set, and we could talk about what the most important places were in the novel so that we can focus on those locations. (Idea from myself)


Grade Level: 3-6


Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 8/1/15

Kirkus Reviews starred 6/1/15

Publishers Weekly starred 5/11/15

School Library Journal starred 7/1/15

Stonewall Book Award 2016


Reviews referenced:

Kirkus Reviews. (2015, May 6). George (Review of the book George). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from

Pavao, K. (n. d.). George (Review of the book George). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from


Sound 1 set; sound 1 Go! Drama by Raina Telgemeier

img_0134Recommended by the publisher for readers aged 10-14, this book is a wonderful peek inside life as a middle-school theatre nerd. Callie, the 7th grade set designer for her middle school’s production of Moon over Mississippi, doesn’t have enough on her hands as it is — not only does she need to help build a cannon that actually fires for a big battle scene, but she also finds herself dealing with her unrequited crush on Greg. When she meets the twins Justin and Jesse, she is ready for some new friends. Justin gets a part in the play, and (due to stage fright), Jesse elects to join backstage crew. Together, the friends prepare for the show and deal with their own lives. 

I thought that the book handles its themes really well, particularly for its age group. This would be a fun book club book … or a common read for theatre kids! It gives a great view into backstage crew and design life without overplaying “techie” stereotypes. I really loved that Callie is a set designer at the middle school level. I appreciated how realistic a lot of the preparation was for the play, especially Callie’s “wants” for the stage design and what could actually happen (Callie, if you ever actually build a tree for a show, lemme know so I can audition!)