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Lily and Dunkin
Cover of Lily and Dunkin
Lily and Dunkin
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"Gephart has written a story that will speak not just to one specific community, but to humanity as a whole." —VOYAFor readers who enjoyed Wonder and Counting by 7's, award-winning author Donna...
"Gephart has written a story that will speak not just to one specific community, but to humanity as a whole." —VOYAFor readers who enjoyed Wonder and Counting by 7's, award-winning author Donna...
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  • "Gephart has written a story that will speak not just to one specific community, but to humanity as a whole." —VOYA
    For readers who enjoyed Wonder and Counting by 7's, award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. Their powerful story will shred your heart, then stitch it back together with kindness, humor, bravery, and love.

    Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth grade.

    Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

    One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.
    * 2017 Southern Book Award Winner—Juvenile Category
    * Voice Award from the Palm Beach County Action Alliance for Mental Health
    * NPR's Best Kids' Books of 2016
    * Chicago Public Library Best Fiction for Older Readers 2016

    * New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2016
    * Amazon's Top 20 Children's Books of 2016
    * Top 10 Audiobooks of 2016, School Library Journal
    * YALSA 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults
    * YALSA 2017 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
    * ALA 2017 Rainbow Book List — GLBTQ Books for Children & Teens
    * Georgia Book Award, 2017-2018 Nominee
    * Rhode Island Middle School Book Award Nominee, 2018
    * Wisconsin State Reading Association's Just One More Page Selection, 2017

    * Indie Next Pick Summer 2016
    * Junior Library Guild Selection
    * Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 — Best Middle Grade & Children's
    * 2016 Nerdy Book Club Award
    * 2016 Rainbow Awards — Best Transgender Book
    * 2016 Spring Okra Pick — the Best in Southern Literature
    "Gephart clearly has a lot of heart, and she tells their stories with compassion."—Kirkus

    "A thoughtfully and sensitively written work of character-driven fiction that dramatically addresses two important subjects that deserve more widespread attention."—Booklist, starred

    "Gephart sympathetically contrasts the physical awkwardness, uncertainty, and longings of these two outsiders during a few tightly-plotted months, building to a crescendo of revelation...[A] valuable portrait of two teenagers whose journeys are just beginning."—PW

    "This would be a fantastic addition to any middle grade library collection, and is highly recommended for all ages."—VOYA

    "Lily and Dunkin is a delight. Here's a book for anyone who's ever struggled with being different—or anyone who's ever loved someone who bears the burden of difference. . . . Crucial, heart-breaking, and inspiring." —Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There and Stuck in the Middle with You


  • From the book


    Lily Jo is not my name. Yet.

    But I'm working on that.

    That's why I'm in the closet. Literally in my mom's walk-in closet, with Meatball at my heels.

    I scratch under Meatball's chin, and his tiny pink tongue pokes out the side of his mouth. He's adorable like that.

    "Practice," I tell Meatball. "Only six days until school starts." I have to do this. I can't. Have to. Can't. I almost feel my best friend (okay, my only friend), Dare, push me toward the dresses.

    Thinking about my plan for the first day of eighth grade makes my stomach drop, like I plunged over the crest of a roller coaster at Universal Studios. I'm sure not one other person going to Gator Lake Middle is dealing with what I am, probably not one other person in the entire state of Florida. Statistically, I know that's not true, because I looked up a lot of information on the Internet, but it feels that way sometimes.

    Meatball's wagging his stubby tail so hard his whole body shakes. I wish the world were made of dogs. They love you one hundred percent of the time, no matter what.

    "I've got one for you," I tell Meatball as I pull a hanger from the rack. "The past, the present and the future all walk into a bar."

    I examine the summery red fabric. The tiny white flower print. I remember being with Mom when she bought this dress.

    "Ready for the punch line?"

    Meatball looks up at me with his big brown eyes, dark fur falling into them.

    "It was tense."


    Holding the dress to my chest, I say, "The past, the present and the future all walk into a bar. It was tense. Get it?"

    Meatball tilts his head, as though he's trying hard to understand. I scratch under his chin to let him know he's such a good dog and I'm a total dork for telling a grammar joke to an animal.

    Then I focus on the dress.

    "These are lilies of the valley," Mom said, pointing to the flowers when we were in the store. She held the dress to her cheek for a moment. "Those were my favorite flowers when I was growing up in Burlington, New Jersey. We had them in the garden in front of our house, near the pink azalea bushes. They smelled so good!"

    I sniff the flowers now, as though the tiny, bell-shaped blossoms will smell like anything other than a dress. "I'm glad Dad's at Publix," I tell Meatball. "And Mom's at her studio. Gives me time to put the first part of my plan into action. The practicing part."

    Half of me is so excited I could explode. It feels good to finally be doing this. The other half—where other people's voices jam together in my brain—is terrified. Excited. Terrified. Yup, those are the right words.

    I take off my pajamas and let the dress slide over my head and body. The silky lining feels smooth and soft against my skin. It's hard to get the zipper up in the back. I consider going to Sarah's room and asking for help, but decide to do it myself, even though I know she'd help me.

    When I was little, I tried on one of Sarah's old dresses and loved how it felt. How I felt in it. When Mom came home from work that day, she laughed and made me whirl and twirl. Even Dad laughed. Back then.

    "What do you think?" I ask Meatball while I twirl, feeling the skirt of the dress drift up, then back down against my legs.

    Meatball barks.

    "I'll take that as an approval."

    He barks again.

    "Or you might have to pee."

    I slip into Mom's sandals, barely believing my feet have now grown as large as hers, but they have.

    In her full-length mirror, I see how the top of...

About the Author-

  • Donna Gephart's award-winning novels are packed with humor and heart. They include Death by Toilet Paper; Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen; How to Survive Middle-School; and As if Being 12-3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! Donna is a popular speaker at schools, conferences, and book festivals. For reading guides, resources, writing tips, and more, visit donnagephart.com.


  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 7, 2016
    With humor and great sensitivity, Gephart (Death by Toilet Paper) juxtaposes the efforts of two eighth-graders—one struggling with gender dysphoria, one with mental illness—to establish new identities for themselves. Determined, gentle, and self-aware Tim was “born with boy parts” but identifies as a girl, preferring the name Lily; already “out” to her family and best friend Dare, Lily is both excited and terrified about reactions to a more public transformation. Meanwhile, mercurial newcomer Norbert hates his name—but loves the nickname Lily gives him, Dunkin, which alludes to his favorite haunt—and keeps deep secrets, even from himself. Their friendship develops slowly as Dunkin, desperate for acceptance, gets swept up by an intolerant basketball-playing crowd. Gephart sympathetically contrasts the physical awkwardness, uncertainty, and longings of these two outsiders during a few tightly-plotted months, building to a crescendo of revelation. Strong, supportive women accept these teens as they are, while their fathers struggle mightily. Despite an overly tidy resolution to Dunkin’s story and Lily being a bit too perfect, it’s a valuable portrait of two teenagers whose journeys are just beginning. Ages 10–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2016
    Lily is trans and is facing puberty, which will make her look less than herself than she does now, while new kid Dunkin's manic impulsiveness makes him a misfit; though they click immediately, life gets complicated. According to her author's note, Gephart promised her son a story with a character who is bipolar like him and promised herself a story of a trans girl, to help foster understanding of people like them. Gephart clearly has a lot of heart, and she tells their stories with compassion. They speak in alternating first-person narration with cursive headers for Lily and block capitals for Dunkin. Dunkin's insensitivity during manic episodes doesn't erase the fact that he's a good kid, and that comes through. But trans readers will likely not recognize themselves in Lily, even if they share some common ground. Lily is perfectly polite, unfailingly kind, with nary a bad thought, angelic right up to her fairy-tale ending. Though Gephart does a good job of rounding out her other characters, Lily is so pristine that she feels mythical, falling into the pile of fiction's magical misfits so perfect it's impossible not to accept this one little departure from the norm. There are too few messy, complicated trans heroes that still find love and acceptance in literature for kids, and while cis readers may find it educational, this isn't going to change that. Gephart's compassion is noble, but it's not enough to make Lily's story resonate. (resources) (Fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist starred review "Though in less skillful hands this might have turned into a problem novel, it is, instead, a thoughtfully and sensitively written work of character-driven fiction that dramatically addresses two important subjects that deserve more widespread attention."

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    Random House Children's Books
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