As a pretty conservative person, I always am a little bit wary of books dealing with gender issues. Within the past few months a few have been highlighted and given rave reviews. But it still took me a while to really want to read any of them.
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky is one written for middle grade readers. And I pretty much think that Polonsky does a perfect job of dealing with Grayson's questions and desires in a way that tween readers can totally get -without giving them more than they need.
Grayson lives with his aunt and uncle and cousins after his parents were killed in a car accident when he was in preschool. He often feels invisible and lonely, and doesn't have many friends. When he makes friends, it is with girls.
When Grayson tries out for the lead role in the school play (a female character), he isn't sure of his choice. But he knows that he wants this role more than he's wanted anything else in a long time.
After the death of his grandmother Grayson receives some of the letters she had saved from his mother. Although he doesn't remember dressing up in tutus when he was little, his mother's recollections of this in her letters and her feelings of acceptance about her son help Grayson feel that he must be true to himself.
This was a great story. I loved Grayson and the way he dealt with trying to figure out who he was supposed to be. Polonsky knows her audience's maturity level and the amount of information they can handle, and has created a story that children will enjoy and learn from.