Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 8 to 12
- Grade: 3 to 7
Fifth grader Talia Cohen-Sullivan isn't sure how she feels about boys, crushes, and the love thing even though her best friend, Carmen, is already dreaming about kissing--and it's only September. Losing her mom to cancer a few years ago made Talia afraid of change, though she still has her big sister, Jade, to help her through hard times. But when she sees Jade kissing a girl, Talia is suddenly thrust into a world she doesn't understand and faces important decisions. With the help of her therapist, and Carmen, and Jade herself, Talia learns that love has many faces; love might even be something she's interested in soon...for herself.
About the authors
Gail Marlene Schwartz and Lucie Gagnon are writers, mothers, queer women, and best friends. Lucie loves drawing, game night with her family, and the feel of a chickadee in her hand. Lucie lives in Montreal, QC. Gail is passionate about learning the cello, making collage books, and going kamikaze sledding with her son. Gail currently lives in both Montreal, QC and Vermont, USA. Authors are available for school and other venue readings and presentations.
Lucie Gagnon et Gail Marlene Schwartz sont passionnées de livres pour enfants. Elles sont les co-auteurs de Clémence au temps du coronavirus (Facile à Lire, 2020) et L'amoureuse de ma sœur(Rebel Mountain Press, à venir). Lucie est retraitée du réseau des Bibliothèques Publiques de Montréal. Elle est un parent-éducateur qui adore les jeux, les pâtes et aime apprendre comment les choses fonctionnent. Gail écrit pour les adultes et est éditeur professionnel. Elle aime chanter, faire du pain challah, et travailler avec des amis sur des projets d'art salissants. En plus d'écrire ensemble, Lucie et Gail partagent une maison, un fils et un chien, tous pleins de sons, à St-Armand, du Québec.
Excerpt: My Sister's Girlfriend (by (author) Gail Marlene Schwartz & Lucie Gagnon)
On Tuesday, I have Arts and Crafts Club. I'll try to finish my special project for Jade because of stuff with Emily and us being in a fight.
Last week, I started with the idea of an elephant--Jade's favourite animal. I used papier mâché to make it 3D. Then this week, I'm painting the whole thing teal and then gluing on cut-outs from a magazine for the legs and the feet. In one of the buckets on the table, there are these tiny metal circles and I make three holes in each ear and use the circles for earrings. I paint the trunk plum with glow-in-the-dark spots and add metallic gold stripes to the body, from the back down to the bottom of the feet. Finally, I tie some fishing line around the body so Jade can hang it from her doorknob, if she wants to. I know she'll like something that could never exist in nature but only in someone's imagination; mine, to be precise. I pick glue off my fingers and daydream about Jade with her new elephant.
Carmen has a dentist appointment, so after Arts and Crafts, I walk home by myself. I stop at Marda's, and for snacks I buy pretzels, and bugles, and apple juice because it's on sale. Marda gives me a huge smile.
"Where's the other cutie?"
"At the dentist, or at the orthodontist for her braces, I think."
She shakes her head. "I never went to the dentist a day in my life and my teeth are fine." Inside my head, I think about talks I've had with Carmen where we try to figure out the exact colour of Marda's teeth. They are somewhere between steel wool and double latte.
"How's my girl today, anyhow?"
I grin and hold up one finger. Digging into my backpack, I find Jade's elephant and bring it out to show her. Normally, I wouldn't do something like that because most people would think it was weird, but Matda not only doesn't say mean things, she also knows Jade.
"It's for my sister," I say proudly. I turn it around so she can see all the angles.
"You and that big sister have quite the creativity," she says, clucking like a turkey.
I giggle and put the two snack bags on the counter.
When I walk by Carmen's, I wave even though nobody is home. Weird how much I can miss her, even though we spent most of the day together at school.
I turn the corner onto Hickory and see the edge of our dark grey roof from a distance. I hope I'll have Jade to myself so I can give her the elephant right away. In my mind, I imagine her hugging me, telling me I am the best sister in the world and it's just icing on the cake that I am also a wonderful artist.
As I pass our next door neighbours, I see their cat chase a squirrel into our yard, which makes me look at the bottom of our house. Our basement has two very small windows, and the curtains on the front one are closed, which is strange because we always keep them open. The curtain on the side window is open and I see movement.
As I get closer, I keep looking at the window on the side of the house. I can see our washer and dryer, the hanging lightbulb with the string, and the tattered couch. On the couch are two people. Obviously one is Jade, but who is the other?
As I get closer, I step back. They probably don't want anybody looking if they pulled the curtains in front. Which just makes me more curious. I approach the house from the side of the window, out of their view. When my shoulder presses against the bricks, I lean forward to peek.
The other person is Emily. And she and Jade are kissing. On the lips.
I freeze, not able to pull myself up, not able to stop looking. Jade has her hands on Emily's cheeks and they kiss, and kiss, and kiss. I feel my heart race. Then I see Emily wrap her arms around my sister's waist.
I finally pull myself back against the house and stand up. Sweat beads on my temples and I'm breathing hard. Another squirrel runs past me and jumps onto the tree. I slowly turn and walk around to the front door. Open it with my key. Strain to hear sounds from the basement but the door is shut and the house is silent.
I put the snack bags on the kitchen table, take off my coat, and go into the bedroom. Lay face down on the pillow and Mom's face appears. But I can't think of one thing to say to her. Then, something comes. "Mom, I think Jade is in love. With Emily."
A heartwarming story to help children understand the coming-out process of those they love. My Sister's Girlfriend is as much a story about a family coming out, as it is about a young girl opening up and learning to share a beloved family member with others. LS Stone, author of What's in it for ME?
Talia is a likeable character who has lost her mother and is very close to her sister, Jade. When she discovers that her sister has a girlfriend, she struggles with acceptance of this new relationship. This well-written book is a positive introduction for readers who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community. Acceptance is the key theme - not just of others but ourselves." Chantal Hughes, author in Breaking Boundaries- LGBTQ2 Writers Coming Out and Into Canada
Finally, a middle grade LGBTQ+ book! My grade 5 readers love this book. The preview copy of My Sister's Girlfriend is in great demand; there is a waiting list to read it. My students are already asking if there is going to a followup book. Highly recommended." Lesley Bell, librarian.