When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by—a boy’s name. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents. Written with warmth and sensitivity by trans writer Kyle Lukoff, this book is a sweet and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.
In this first installment of a new series, Max, who is confidently transgender (“When I look in the mirror, I see a boy”) runs up against a decidedly binary gender culture on his first day of school. Neither the boys nor the girls want him in their respective bathrooms, and he decides that the only course is to “hold it all day.” Writing in an empathetic, conversational style, Lukoff (When Aidan Became a Brother) offers an upbeat portrait of what’s possible: Max is able to ask for and receive the support he needs from the school and his parents (“the boys got used to having me in their bathroom,” he adds). Equally important, though, are eye-opening moments for Max: his new friend Teresa rejects his assertion that girls don’t like to climb trees and look for “gross bugs”; his friend Stephen firmly informs Max that, while he wears dresses, he identifies as a boy. Gender identity, Max realizes, is about everyone having the opportunity to be who they know they are. Lozano (Diana Dances) amplifies the reassuring tone with appealing cartoon-style illustrations. Ages 7–up (October 2019)