Friday, July 6, 2012

The Thing about Georgie, by Lisa Graff

Title:  The Thing About Georgie
Author:  Lisa Graff
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Year:  2007
Pages:  224
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Themes:  Disabilities, Acceptance, Friendship, Family
Age Range:  3rd through 6th Grade

Everyone has a "thing"-something about them that other people see that defines a part of who they are.  Like the thing about me is that I love books, or that I am an opinionated liberal.  Well, the thing about Georgie is that he is a dwarf, and now that he is in fourth grade he is starting to realize what that means for his future.  He is never going to get much taller than the 42 inches he has already attained, which makes managing in school, with too-big furniture and more and more activities he can't participate in, that much more difficult.  His mother is pregnant, with a baby who is likely NOT going to be a dwarf, and Georgie feels like the new Godzilla baby will overshadow him.  His best friend Andy made friends with the new boy in their class, and Georgie is pretty sure he like him better.  And his is forced to be partners with Jeanie the Meanie for a class project.  How do you grow up when you aren't getting any taller?

I thought that this book was absolutely charming.  As far as I'm concerned, the thing about Georgie is that he was such a normal little boy, even if he is a dwarf,  This kind of story can quickly devolve into the children's book equivalent of a Lifetime Movie, with lots of sappy sentimentality and tear-jerker moments, but Graff does an excellent job showing that children with physical disabilities have the same feelings, and can act in the same obnoxious ways, as any other kids.  Georgie's feelings are informed by his condition, but they are not because of his condition, and in the end he finds he is not really defined by his condition, either.  Georgie's worries about his friendship and the fears he has about the new baby taking his place with his parents are fairly universal...whether a person has dwarfism or not.  I think that kids will really relate to Georgie, and this book is a great way to introduce disabilities in such a way that students understand that people with disabilities are people first, and should be treated as such.

Teacher Resources:
TeacherVision Reading Guide
Scholastic Book Wizard

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