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Rebecca Rabinowitz
27 January 2014 @ 10:00 am
Because even a book that wins an award on criteria related specifically to oppression and liberation is not subject to examination on other axes. e.E. Charlton-Trujillo's Fat Angie has just won the Stonewall for its excellent portrayal of queerness. Apparently its participation in the notion that fat people should not exist -- its replication of a pattern of fatphobia so hegemonic that nobody seems to see it -- is not important enough to consider alongside its terrific queerness portrayal.

It is, though. We need both. We need all. That would be intersectionality.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
17 January 2014 @ 04:54 pm
On fantasy literature and fictional contraceptives: Seabane Isn't Real.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
04 January 2014 @ 01:34 am
Earth Girl by Janet Edwards  
If you're at all interested in disability portrayal in YA, you need to read Earth Girl by Janet Edwards. (Ignore that cover -- it could not be wronger.) This book is a stunning and unusual construction of disability; you could use it to actually teach the social model of disability. Also, the plot is rippingly good, and the romance has some genderswap aspects that truly sparkle (who's the top, who's the bottom, and how does that manifest? Have I tempted you to read it yet?). Earth Girl proves that far-future science fiction needn't be dystopic to be thrilling and have high stakes. And by the end I quite seriously wanted to be an archeologist, which is a first for me.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
28 December 2013 @ 05:17 pm
Awhile back I promised I would try to define what a "naked George moment" is. It comes from my master's thesis and from some lush conversations between Deborah and myself.

It started with using queer theory as a lens for gender constructions in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness. From my thesis:

Some queer [theory] inquiries might examine gaps, searching for textual words or actions that seem to be significantly absent. For example, when a man named George, happening to be unclothed, finds out that his young male friend training for knighthood is actually a young girl living in drag, he makes her turn away until he can find his breeches; "she obeyed, [but] arguing, 'That's silly. I've seen you naked before'" (Pierce, Alanna 134). The fact that Alanna has seen George naked before is a shocking fact to the reader -- how could she have been seeing him naked all along without our knowledge? Does this prove her point -- the insignificance of the moment -- or does it open up a whole new category of possibilities? A queer reading of this information gap could find implications both sexual and textual, all allowed by the sudden possibility that things might happen without our knowledge.

So I wrote that, and then Deborah and I found ourselves saying, about certain moments in other books and other media, "That's a naked George moment." I think what we mean is, that's a moment in which something about sex, gender, or sexuality receives a spotlight via information being revealed that we didn't know before and about which, the very fact that we didn't know it until now is part of the significance. It's not about unreliable narrators; unreliable narration is a common and fascinating tool in children's lit, but this isn't that. (Although, in some cases, this could be a small, extremely specific subset of that.) This is about when the mode, phrasing, timing, and/or tone of a reveal go directly to queering something. A naked George moment shows something anew somehow, something about sex, gender, or sexuality, without necessarily pinning down what the new truth is. It's not merely a new fact (though the reveal of a fact may be the event); it's a moment that creates queerness by creating questions, by blurring a category or opening up options, by making readers re-evaluate something anew about sex, gender, or sexuality in that text. Or not making us do it but inviting us to do it, and providing a scrap of lush material for that exploration.

What might the original naked George moment mean? I've never written down a list, because none of things on the list are clearly true in the series; the original naked George moment is all about questions without answers. But here are (some of) the questions it opens.Collapse )

I'm not being disingenuous: I know it's easy to argue that Alanna is a classic girl-living-in-drag-for-logistical-reasons and that George thought she was male and now thinks ("sees") that she is female and Bob's your uncle. But that naked George moment -- that textual reveal that she's seen him naked all along without us even knowing, without it mattering -- well, that's something. It's not nothing. At least to me.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
23 December 2013 @ 10:09 pm
Beyond Magenta  
Kirkus has given a starred review to Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out. Due out in February. I can't wait to see it.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
15 December 2013 @ 09:24 pm
Dear England, please take good care of my dear brother and dear sister-in-law, as they are now yours as of tonight! I am a proud big sis.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
02 December 2013 @ 02:16 am
Kirkus Best of 2013  
Kirkus's selection of Best Young Adult Books of the Year.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
27 November 2013 @ 02:35 am
Beyond Magenta  
I'm looking forward to reading Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, due out in February. I'm not quite sure about how the actual text got written -- PW says it's "first-person narratives from six transgender teens, drawn from interviews [Kuklin] conducted and shaped with input from her subjects." Does first-person here simply mean that the characters speak in I-language? But it's nonfiction and the characters are real people, so "first-person" sort of implies real people speaking about themselves; the term's a bit confusing here, given that the teens didn't (primarily) do the actual writing about themselves.

All that said, I definitely want to read it and see how it came out.
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
25 November 2013 @ 01:40 am
Kirkus Best of 2013  
Kirkus's selection of Best Children's Books of the Year, from picture books through middle grade. (YA will be out a week from now.)
 
 
Rebecca Rabinowitz
19 November 2013 @ 07:26 pm
Thank you for Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present. Thank you for William's Doll. Thank you.