I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Published: 4th September 4th 2014Goodreads badge
Dial Books
Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

This is a wonderful and easy to understand story about Jazz and her journey as a transgender kid. Jazz introduces herself to readers and tells them the story of her life being a girl but looking like a boy to everyone else.

I liked that Jazz first introduces herself to us through her favourite colours, what she likes to do and who her friends are. Only then do we learn about her being transgender. This is an important move because there are so many other things that make Jazz Jazz and when asked to tell us about herself favourite colours is the best place to start.

As Jazz tells more of her story she mentions she rarely played with trucks, tools, or superheroes and instead liked princesses and mermaid costumes. While it isn’t the best distinction to class these are “girl things” versus “boy things”, I understand for kids it might be an easier thing to understand, even if it isn’t the best phrasing.

The book offers an informative but simple story of her life and how she experienced life at school and home and how once her parents understood they started to support her. Jazz talks about the term transgender and her visit to a doctor, and also how she felt being told she was a boy or had to do boy things she didn’t want to do and how it took time for everyone to understand.

The illustrations are coloured pencil sketches and support the words on the page. There is a mix of full page illustrations and numerous smaller scenes surrounded by white page. I like McNicholas’ style, especially in this book, because it offers simple pictures for enhancement to the story and flesh out the scenes being told but don’t need to overshadow or take over the page.

This is an educational book and one I think would benefit all audiences. The range of picture books about characters/experiences being trans are useful tools as well, there is a lot of power in first hand accounts which I Am Jazz can provide.

You can purchase I am Jazz via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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