|Beautiful something else
Author: Van Otterloo, Ash
When Sparrow's mother is sent to rehab for opiod addiction, Sparrow is sent to live in a commune with her estranged Aunt where Sparrow begins to embrace their true gender identity.
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/23)
School Library Journal (06/01/23)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/05/23)
The Hornbook (00/07/23)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 05/01/2023 In this moving tale of growing into yourself, Van Otterloo gives upper-middle-grade readers a relatable, imperfect nonbinary protagonist who struggles to make their way in a new school when an overdose sends their mom off to rehab. Sparrow, who has always bristled at their birth name and gender norms, is nervous about going to Windy Hall, her mother’s old home. According to her mom, it was “a palace of horrors,” but in the care of Sparrow’s estranged aunt, Mags, it’s a warm and accepting place. Against the backdrop of the rainbow-painted house and in the halls of a new school, Sparrow gets the chance to discover who they truly are with the help of some maybe-magical boots. While it occasionally feels a bit more pedantic than others in the genre, this story of overcoming internalized beliefs, learning to admit when you need help, and standing up for yourself as much as for your friends features a unique character in Sparrow, whom many children will appreciate spending time with. For fans of David Levithan and Kyle Lukoff. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 06/01/2023 Gr 3–7—An empowering identity story about standing your ground and not being afraid to speak your truth. Sparrow's mom, Abigail, is injured in a car wreck, forcing Sparrow, 12, to live with an aunt they never met. Aunt Mags, a trans woman, uses their childhood home Windy Hill as a haven for like-minded individuals seeking acceptance and self-expression. Sparrow finds a home here and begins a journey of self-discovery that allows them to become who they truly are, a queer, non-binary person. Otterloo covers a multitude of topics: intergenerational trauma, anxiety, mental health, honest communication, and the dangers of self medicating; also included are web resources on the gender spectrum. This book is testament to drama class as a hopeful pathway to finding your crew and the importance of women in science. Sparrow is a unique character who makes thoughtful observations, questions the status quo, all while possessing a remarkable knowledge of the natural world. VERDICT A perfect way to infuse fiction with science; use this with Eliot Schrefer's Queer Ducks (and Other Animals), in SEL classes, or offer it to those reading Ann Braden or Leslie Connor.—Laura Dooley-Taylor - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.