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Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Title Parrotfish
Author Ellen Wittlinger
Publisher Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Year 2007
ISBN-10 1-4169-1622-9

Teaser/Reader Annotation Angela made a simple change – shedding her female trappings to transform into a boy named Grady. He didn't know why it was so hard for everyone else to understand.

Plot Summary Angela has never felt comfortable in her own skin. She's gone through life thus far trying to be happy standing in the girl's line at the pool and wearing the dresses on holidays. As her family changes the house for the holiday season Angela makes her own change – into a boy named Grady. He soon finds out, however, that not everyone is as understanding about the transformation, nor the need he felt to make it, as he had originally believed. In doing this he has lost the only friend he has ever known, made his entire family uncomfortable, and put the school on edge. While he may feel more natural in his new persona, other people simply do not understand. Just when he is beginning to believe that it almost was not worth it, Grady begins to find new friends and allies where he never thought to look.

Critical Evaluation Parrotfish is a quick, easy read. The writing style is unique with interjections of play script worked into the narrative as an aside from the narrator, Grady. It does, however, have an amateur feel to the writing, and there were a number syntactical errors throughout the book that distracted from the flow and could have easily been cleaned up before publishing. Wittlinger did do a good job getting the reader into the head of the main character, Grady, and understanding his confusion and loneliness. It was apparent how attached Grady and his father were, and the connection the two of them shared despite the chaos that descended on the household that holiday season. Some of the secondary characters, especially the school rival, could have been better developed but it did not detract from the overall story. Though the writing could use some improvement, it was a good read, and one that dealt well with some tough issues.

About the Author Ellen Wittlinger was born in Belleville, Illinois on October 21, 1948. She stayed in Illinois for her undergraduate work, getting her degree from Millikin University, but earned her Master's of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa. She currently lives in Delaware.

Wittlinger concentrates on writing young adult fiction. Her first novel, Lombardo's Law, was published in 1993, and she has since published a number of other works including the award-winning novels What's In a Name (2000) and Hard Love (1999). She has also published a book of poetry (Breakers, 1979) and several plays.

Primary Genre LGBT

Secondary Genre Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties Sociology

Booktalking Ideas

1) Why did Grady's realization of Charlie's loneliness help form a connection between?

2) Discuss the differences between gender and sex.

Reading Level/Interest Age 14+

Challenge Issues minor sexual content

1) Become familiar with book and its content.
2) Refer to library's collection policies.
3) Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles.
4) Get reviews from teenagers who are familiar with the book.

Why is it included? This book was assigned for class reading. It was included in the database because I felt there needed to be a greater representation of LGBT materials.