cover image Gender Blender

Gender Blender

Blake Nelson, . . Delacorte, $15.95 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-385-90937-2

When two sixth graders magically change bodies after bumping their heads together, the results are traumatic for them but hilarious for readers—especially those who have wondered what it would feel like to be a member of the opposite sex. After Tom and Emma realize they've undergone a gender switch, it takes them awhile to get used to their new skins. Besides having to adjust to the smaller, lighter frame of a female gymnast, Tom has to learn how to eat a civilized dinner with Emma's straight-laced family, juggle endless activities, deal with backbiting girlfriends, and put on and take off a bra. Emma, now a gangly, big-footed boy, must also conform to a new way of life, pitching baseballs instead of doing flips, coping with a pesky younger brother and rough-housing with guys whose idea of fun is throwing dirt clods and racing downhill in a shopping cart. Throughout the novel, Nelson (Rock Star, Superstar ) demonstrates his keen understanding of peer pressure and gender stereotyping. In one exchange, Tom (in Emma's body) says, "If I can't get dirty, then you can't cry," to which Emma (as Tom) replies, "I'll cry if I have to. This isn't exactly easy, you know." Showing equal sensitivity to both sexes, the author provides honest, humorous answers to questions youngsters are often too embarrassed to ask: What does it mean to get a boner? What is it like to get your period? Can boys and girls really be friends? Ages 10-up. (Mar.)