I Am Jazz

HERTHEL, Jessica & . illus. by Shelagh McNicholas. 32p. Dial. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803741072.
Gr 1–3—This enlightening autobiographical picture book tells the story of a transgender child who knew from the time she was two that despite her physical body she wasn't really a boy. Young Jazz was passionate about her love of mermaids, dancing, dress-up, and pop stars, as well as her conviction that her gender identity was female. Readers are taken through her journey with upbeat, pink-hued watercolor illustrations that are a good complement to the cheerful tone and positive message of the story ("I don't mind being different. Different is special! I think what matters most is what a person is like inside."). Joining the ranks of new books targeted at young children that examine gender roles, such as Ian and Sarah Hoffman's Jacob's New Dress (Albert Whitman, 2014), this title highlights a topic that has not been well represented in children's literature in an uplifting and empowering way. Jazz's explanation of what transgender means ("I have a girl brain but a boy body") is somewhat simplified. However, for those looking to introduce the concept to young readers or those seeking books that value differences, this illustrated memoir is a solid choice.—Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, ID
A little girl describes how she was born with "a girl brain but a boy body" and that once her parents talked to a doctor to understand more about it, they let her be herself. There is little plot, but the straightforward text and friendly, pastel-hued watercolors fairly successfully simplify the issue of gender identity for a young audience and their caregivers.

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