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Children’s Fiction of 2007: The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff

Posted by Sherry on 10/8/2007 in Children's Fiction, Cybil Awards, General |

The thing about Georgie Bishop is: he’s a dwarf. Well, that’s one thing about Georgie. The point of the book is that there’s a lot more to Georgie than just his being a dwarf, even though that’s definitely part of who he is. Georgie is also a dog walker, an actor, a song writer, Andy’s best friend, and he’s about to become a big brother.

If I were pairing books, something I have a tendency to do, I would pair this first novel by NYC author Lisa Graff with The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies, a book I wrote about a few days ago. Both books feature a fight between best friends and business partners, sibling ribalry, and an emphasis on capitalizing on your own gifts and talents. Add a good plot and interesting characters in both books and just the right tone and vocabulary for upper elementary grade readers, and you have a couple of winning stories.

I liked the little notes at the beginning of chapters in The Thing About Georgie about what Georgie can and can’t do. I liked the surprise at the end of the book when it’s revealed just who is narrating at least part of the story. I liked the fact that Georgie’s parents are involved in the story and in his life, unusual for children’s fiction. (I suppose it’s easier to get rid of the adults and just write about kids) I also liked Georgie, a normal kid, who still knows that he has special challenges and is determined to just get on with it.

One part of the book was a little odd. Georgie’s friend’s grandmother, who speaks only Italian, takes Georgie and another kid out into the country, and they get lost. I was never sure where the grandmother thought she was driving them in the first place, nor why an Italian grandmother who spoke no English would have a driver’s license. Or maybe she didn’t have one. Anyway, that section was strange, but designed to show that Georgie was resourceful and good at solving problems in spite of his physical limitations.

Lisa Graff has written a fine book for all children who are curious and who are thinking about what it means to grow up. The dwarfism thing, if you’re interested in that, is a bonus.

From Lisa Graff’s website:

Q: Are you a dwarf?
A: Nope

Q: Do you know any dwarfs?
A: I do now, but I didn’t when I began writing about Georgie.

Q: Why did you decide to write about a dwarf?
A: I wanted to write about someone who was different from everyone around him, in an obvious, physical way. Dwarfism is a particularly unsusual condition in that many dwarfs are born to parent of average height, which meant that Georgie would be unique not only within his community but within his family as well.

Lisa Graff’s blog.

Other reviews of The Thing About Georgie:

Shelf Elf

MotherReader

Kelly at Big A little a

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