by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings; pictures by Shelagh McNicholas
Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2014
Picture book, narrative nonfiction
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 1.6
4 out of 5 stars
I Am Jazz is an autobiographical picture book that is about the early life of Jazz Jennings. Jazz was born a biological boy but for as long as she can remember always saw herself as a girl, or as she describes in the book, “I have a girl brain but a boy body.” In a simple and clear way, I Am Jazz introduces and explains the concept of transgender to children.
The book mentions that sometimes Jazz has been bullied, but strong friendships and her family support her. The authors have included photographs of Jazz as a boy and a girl in the back of the book, as well as further information about TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, an organization that supports children born with Gender Dysphoria.
I have one complaint about the book, and it doesn’t deal with text or how Jazz’s story is told, but it does deal with the illustrations. Shelagh McNicholas depicted Jazz as having very light skin in her illustrations. From the photographs of Jazz that are included in the book, readers can tell that in fact her skin is a darker shade. I am disappointed that the artist and publisher chose to depict Jazz different than who she is, especially since that is pretty much the entire theme of the story.