The Beautiful Something Else

Scholastic. May 2023. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338843224.
Gr 3-7–An empowering identity story about standing your ground and not being afraid to speak your truth. Sparrow’s mom, Abigail, is injured in a car wreck, forcing Sparrow, 12, to live with an aunt they never met. Aunt Mags, a trans woman, uses their childhood home Windy Hill as a haven for like-minded individuals seeking acceptance and self-expression. Sparrow finds a home here and begins a journey of self-discovery that allows them to become who they truly are, a queer, non-binary person. Otterloo covers a multitude of topics: intergenerational trauma, anxiety, mental health, honest communication, and the dangers of self medicating; also included are web resources on the gender spectrum. This book is testament to drama class as a hopeful pathway to finding your crew and the importance of women in science. Sparrow is a unique character who makes thoughtful observations, questions the status quo, all while possessing a remarkable knowledge of the natural world.
VERDICT A perfect way to infuse fiction with science; use this with Eliot Schrefer’s Queer Ducks (and Other Animals), in SEL classes, or offer it to those reading Ann Braden or Leslie Connor.

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