Category Archives: **** Highly recommended

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Harlequin Teen, 2012.

Chelsea Knot is one of the popular girls, based almost solely on the basis of her friendship with queen bee, Kristen, who manipulates her, and everyone around her to get what she wants. Most of their time together is spent putting other people down, shopping, and gossiping about boys.

Chelsea is also known for her inability to keep a secret, unless she can blackmail someone for something better than the thrill of spilling the latest gossip. When she finds out that Tessa is sneaking around with her best friend, Megan’s boyfriend, and has pictures to prove it, Kristen convinces her not to share the photos if Tessa will get them two fake IDs.

So far, there is nothing likeable about Chelsea – and it’s all about to go downhill at a New Year’s party at Kristen’s. Drunk, and in desperate need of a bathroom, Chelsea stumbles into a bedroom where she discovers two boys making love. With the best secret of the year in her grasp, Chelsea blurts out the details to everyone within hearing range. Kristen, her boyfriend Warren, and others react in horror, disgust and anger, and Warren and his sidekick Joey follow the two boys out the door, saying they’re just going to teach them a lesson.

When she finds out from Kristen, the next morning, that Noah, one of the two gay teens, is in the hospital, Chelsea accedes to Kristen’s threat not to say anything to anyone.

Surprisingly, her conscience gets the better of her, and she confesses everything to her parents, and makes a statement to the police.

She then takes a vow of silence.

Returning to school, Chelsea finds that all of her friends have turned against her, and she is treated to verbal and physical abuse and harassment that the school administration manages to remain ignorant of. Given detention every day by her English teacher for not participating in class, Chelsea makes a new friend, who draws her into a new circle of people who are respectful of her silence.

These new relationships are not uncomplicated – they all know what she did, and one of the teens in this group is Noah’s boyfriend, who is furious and resents her presence in his life.

What Chelsea learns about herself through her silence, and through her new friendships is what makes this book worth reading, and not simply another story of a gay-bashing.

 

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Gay, High School, Middle School

Pink! by Lynne Rickards

aThe Chicken House, 2009

Gender-conformity concerns – Infant-Preschool

Patrick the penguin is horrified to wake up pink one morning. Boys can’t be pink! He will be teased at school! This is the end of the world!

Patrick’s parents reassure him that it’s okay to be different, and his father pulls out a book of birds of the world to show him photographs of flamingos, half of whom are definitely boys.

But after a few days of misery, Patrick packs his knapsack, and tells his parents he’s going to Africa where he will fit in better with the flamingo flocks. To his dismay, while the flamingos are friendly, he doesn’t fit it there either. He can’t fish like they do, and he can’t fly like they do. And the water is awfully warm for a penguin.

When he returns home, he is welcomed by friends, classmates, and family alike, and gives a presentation in class about everything he learned about flamingos.

Maybe being a pink penguin isn’t the end of the world after all.

This is a great book to use with children about feeling comfortable about their differences, and also to potentially explore gender issues with.

Also available in Spanish: ¡Pink! El pingüino que se volvió rosa.  Trapella Books, 2010.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2000s, Gender-conformity concerns, Infant - Preschool, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah Brannen

Putnam, 2008.  a

Gay – Infant-Preschool

Guinea pigs Chloe and her Uncle Bobby are best buddies. They do everything together. When Chloe learns that Uncle Bobby will be marrying his friend Jamie, she worries she will be left out in the cold. After a talk with Uncle Bobby she feels reassured, and even grows to appreciate Jamie.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2000s, Gay, Infant - Preschool

“The Secret of Life According to Aunt Gladys” by Bruce Coville

In Dirty Laundry: Stories About Family Secrets, edited by Lisa Rowe Faustino.  New York: Vikilaunng, 1998.   

Transgender – Middle School/High School

Randy discovers he has an uncle whom the family doesn’t talk about. He discovers why when George arrives for an unexpected visit, planning to stay while he transitions to Gladys.  Randy’s parents struggle to accept Gladys, but Randy is open-minded about his aunt-to-be.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 1990s, Middle School, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

Be Who You Are by Jennifer Carr

aAuthorHouse, 2010.

Transgender – Preschool/Elementary School

Nick has felt like a girl for as long as he can remember. When he tells his parents, they tell him they love him any way he feels. Nick’s parents let him grow his hair, buy him dresses, and when things start getting difficult at school, they talk to his teacher, and take him to a therapist who supports children “who felt like they were born in the wrong body.”

Nick continues to identify as a girl, and tells her parents that she doesn’t want to be called a boy, or be called Nick anymore. They support her decision to change her name to Hope, and when she wants to meet other children like her, they find other families with children like her that she can play with and talk to.

Hope’s little brother, Will, is relieved that they can still share a room, but doesn’t know what it will be like to have a sister instead of a brother. The family goes to the library to check out books about sisters and brothers loving each other, which makes him feel better.

Will has questions for Hope, which she always answers, and he is relieved when she says she is the same person as always and will always love him.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Infant - Preschool, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

“Labyrinth” by Lois McMaster Bujold

aOriginally published in Analog, August, 1989; included in Borders of Infinity.  Baen, 1989; and also in Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem. Baen, 2001.

Intersex – Adult/Teen Interest

In this novella in the Vorkosigan series, Bel Thorne, a person who is described as being fully hermaphroditic – the preferred term on Bel’s home planet of Beta Colony – serves under Miles in a mission to Jackson’s Whole. Bel flirts with Miles, who is attracted, but can’t stop thinking of Bel as male.

Bel also appears as a supporting character in The Warrior’s Apprentice, The Vor Game, Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, Memory, and Diplomatic Immunity.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 1980s, Adult, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

aBaen, 1999.   Transgender – Adult/Teen Interest

In one of the many story threads in this volume of the Vorkosigan Saga, Lady Donna Vorrutyer travels to Beta Colony to have a sex change operation in order to prevent a loathed cousin from inheriting a title and lands. As a woman, Lady Donna was married three times, and as Count Dono Vorrutyer, marries again and has a child. Count Dono also appears briefly in Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (Baen, 2012).

Other titles in the series will be of interest to LGBTQ readers. While this title can be read as a stand-alone, readers will be missing a great deal of background information and character development.

The author’s suggestion for the order in which to read the series can be found here: http://www.dendarii.com/frames/index.html.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 1990s, Adult, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys