Twelve-year-old Peter secretly dresses as a girl. Imagine his delight when he finds himself in the head of a girl. Yet, despite his wild hopes, that girl is not him. She’s Kaitling, the daughter of a mage in a beleaguered world. Peter has his own problems when a vicious new girl at school threatens to reveal his girly ways. Becoming friends, Kaitling and Peter join forces to do battle with those who oppose them.
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When Peter awakes in the head of a girl, he is both delighted and alarmed that his secret yearnings have become reality. Very quickly, however, his error is apparent; this girl is not him. Kaitling –that’s her name– is twelve years old, like him. She’s the daughter of a magician, a prominent figure in another world. Boy and girl travel back and forth from each other’s minds but have little time to get acquainted before Kaitling's island is overrun by warrior priests and she has to flee. At home, a conflict erupts when Peter is caught wearing his sister's clothes. He takes refuge at a friend's place who encourages him to dress as a girl. Meanwhile at school, a haughty new girl goads him about his girlishness and, spitting in his face, vows to rid the earth of him. The stage seems set for a desperate struggle to survive, but will ingenuity and youthful fervour be enough against folly and fanaticism?
Chapter One - Peter glanced at the school notice board: Friday, May 13th 1960. For a Friday 13th, he’d escaped the worst so far. He looked over his shoulder as he broke into a run. There must be a clock somewhere. He was going to be late....
Chapter Two - Peter pushed down hard on the pedals until he breasted the crown of the hill on which their house was built, a solitary, single-storey building. After the long ride, he was glad to get off and walk....
Chapter Three - “Kaitling!” An unfamiliar voice, deep and male, called nearby, startling Peter. On the table in front of him, a book lay open in a language he didn't recognise. Where was he? He tried to look around, but had no control over his head. Could he be paralysed? The thought had him on the verge of panic...
This book is brilliant. I’ll be thinking about these characters and this plot for a long, long time. (...) the writer has crafted a wonderful story that I love, and I can’t wait to start reading the sequel. - Leland Dirks
This book was a wonderful read. (...) I read it as a parent of a child who is considered "different" and found it great for many reasons: 1. It is great to have someone write a story for a younger audience about a boy who may be transgender and a girl who considers herself gay. 2. To demonstrate that sexual identity is not simply binary. 3. To open up the possibilities and reflect upon them, to allow for changes of mind. I liked the way, the young boy found support from other adults who appreciated him and protected him. - Kate Lindley
Pretty Boys, Handsome Girls - For the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, an extract from Boy & Girl about pretty boys and handsome girls.
Dressed in Girls' Clothes - Had Peter, the main character in Boy & Girl, been a girl, wearing a dress or a skirt and top, with those new-fangled tights that were all the rage at the beginning of the 60s, would not have been such a big deal,...
The Gender of Clothes -17-year-old Alex published a photo of a t-shirt on Tumblr that proclaimed: Clothes have no gender (1). Underneath Alex wrote, anyone of any gender identity should be able to wear whatever they want without facing discrimination...
What Clothes are Saying - “There can be no silence in the language of clothes,” said Soline Anthore Baptiste during a conference about the history of clothing at the Club 44 in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland...
Ghosting passed a hundred thousand - a short extract from around the hundred-thousand-word mark.
Epilogue - ten chapters from the end, writing the epilogue.
Editing, editing ... - about editing Boy & Girl.
Boys and reading - A report underlines the difficulties boys have with reading. It notes, “…there is evidence that the literacy gender gap has been around for some time, with girls outperforming boys for perhaps as long as 60 years.” (...)
Here is a plan of Peter’s sprawling one-storey house:
The novel takes places partly on an island called Drailong. Here is a sneak peek at a map of the island.
Boy & Girl - Twelve-year-old Peter secretly dresses as a girl. Imagine his delight when he finds himself in the head of a girl. Yet, despite his wild hopes, that girl is not him. She’s Kaitling, the daughter of a mage in a beleaguered world. Peter has his own problems when a vicious new girl at school threatens to reveal his girly ways. Becoming friends, Kaitling and Peter join forces to do battle with those who oppose them.
In Search of Lost Girls - Dressed as a girl, Peter sets out in search of his soul-mate Kate, who has been ripped from his arms and kidnapped. In his quest, he is hounded by fanatics bent on eliminating those who mess with gender. Meanwhile, Kate has been dumped in a nightmarish girls’ orphanage where she emerges as a decisive figure in the rescue of her fellow orphans. Will the two ever be together again?
We Girls – Retain his androgynous ambiguity or say goodbye to his girlish self, such is the existential choice that besets Peter. Circumstances, however, force both him and Kate to take up other challenges. By straddling the line between child and adult, between carefree creativity and weighty responsibility, between play and work, they find imaginative ways to confront far-reaching problems on which adults persistently turn a blind eye.