Baby Drag Queen

Orca. (Orca Soundings). Apr. 2023. 144p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459835320.
Gr 9 Up–Transgender male teen Ichiro is living with his Japanese mom in Vancouver. Since Dad, a successful professional photographer, is now remarried and living in China, Mom is working constantly at restaurant jobs trying to make ends meet. Ichiro starts picking up shifts washing dishes as well, but his plan is to save enough to put a down payment on a camper van and move with Mom to Aunt Edna’s land on Vancouver Island. Ichiro, already curious about feminine clothes and makeup but hiding it from his mom, decides to enter a drag contest to earn the cash he needs. With tutorials on YouTube and coaching from a drag crew he meets through working in the club’s kitchen, Ichiro crushes a performance of Miley Cyrus’s version of “Jolene” and comes in second, making enough prize money to move on with the camper project and look forward to going to university in Victoria, where Lexie, with whom he has been building a chaste romance, will also be going. Many characters express some blend of Asian identity, several of them also queer and/or bisexual. The book is written at a second to third grade reading level.
VERDICT With contemporary themes, relatable characters, and plenty of high school drama, this title is recommended for high school libraries.

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