Gender Blender

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Gender Blender

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Wants Jeff Matthews to notice her.
Hates sexist boys.
Wonders when she’ll get her period.
Must avoid looking like a wuss.
Must deal with his blended family.
Must get a chance with Kelly A.
Then something freaky happens: Emma and Tom switch bodies. And until they can find a remedy:
Can’t believe she has a . . . thingie.
Hates mean girls.
Finds out secondhand that her period has arrived.
Must learn to put on a bra.
Must deal with an overachieving family.
Must not be alone with Jeff Matthews.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
- Publishers Weekly, Starred
Publishers Weekly
When two sixth graders magically change bodies after bumping their heads together, the results are traumatic for them but hilarious for readers-especially those who have wondered what it would feel like to be a member of the opposite sex. After Tom and Emma realize they've undergone a gender switch, it takes them awhile to get used to their new skins. Besides having to adjust to the smaller, lighter frame of a female gymnast, Tom has to learn how to eat a civilized dinner with Emma's straight-laced family, juggle endless activities, deal with backbiting girlfriends, and put on and take off a bra. Emma, now a gangly, big-footed boy, must also conform to a new way of life, pitching baseballs instead of doing flips, coping with a pesky younger brother and rough-housing with guys whose idea of fun is throwing dirt clods and racing downhill in a shopping cart. Throughout the novel, Nelson (Rock Star, Superstar) demonstrates his keen understanding of peer pressure and gender stereotyping. In one exchange, Tom (in Emma's body) says, "If I can't get dirty, then you can't cry," to which Emma (as Tom) replies, "I'll cry if I have to. This isn't exactly easy, you know." Showing equal sensitivity to both sexes, the author provides honest, humorous answers to questions youngsters are often too embarrassed to ask: What does it mean to get a boner? What is it like to get your period? Can boys and girls really be friends? Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A cookie cutter "Freaky Friday" type of story for a new generation of readers. When estranged friends Tom and Emma bang heads while arguing they find themselves trapped in each others' sixth grade bodies. They must find a way to remain inconspicuous until they discover a way to switch back. The more laid back Tom must rush through Emma's hectic, activity-filled schedule, while Emma is aware of baseball tryouts looming in the near future. Along with the general mastering of daily routines, this boy-girl switch leads to an interesting array of knowledge and self-exploration for both genders at the height of adolescent changes. Both characters discover some new and, at times inappropriate, bodily experiences. From struggles with the opposite sex to rumors, friends, school, and sports, long time friends, Tom and Emma, need to find a way to switch back before they run out of time. While this book touches on many issues that young preteens may be curious about, parents please beware that there are some more mature topics brought up in an otherwise childish story. 2006, Delacorte Press/Random House, and Ages 10 up.
—Jeanna Sciarrotta
Emma and Tom were once best friends, but by sixth grade their friendship has become an embarrassing memory in a world where boys and girls barely interact, let alone understand each other. Thanks to a cursed Eskimo arrowhead, a "Freaky Friday" style switch takes place, and Tom and Emma must appreciate each other or end up living each other's life for good. Emma is a pleaser, a teacher's pet intensely invested in the gymnastics that her parents encourage. Tom is a loafer except when it comes to baseball, messing around with his friends and trying to make his mostly absent father proud of him. Combining their strengths and learning to rely on each other, Tom and Emma resolve to defeat the curse-and learn more than a little about how the other gender lives. In The New Rules of High School (Viking, 2003/VOYA June 2003), Nelson created complex but not necessarily likeable characters seeking to understand themselves. Here the exploration of gender differences might have been stronger if the characters did not trade complexity for likeability. There are some funny moments as both discover less-pleasant aspects of each other's lives, but every character exemplifies traditional gender stereotypes. Boys do not do homework. Girls are in tune with their families. Boys roughhouse. Girls sabotage each other. Francess Lantz's The Day Joanie Frankenhauser Became a Boy (Dutton, 2005) explores the very real befuddlement most preteens feel for the opposite sex without relying so heavily on stereotypes and overdone switcheroos. VOYA CODES: 2Q 3P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2006, Random House, 224p.,and PLB Ages 11 to 14.
—Catherine Gilmore-Clough
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Tom and Emma played together when they were in fourth grade, but now that they are sixth graders, they don't get along. Both are unhappy when they are teamed up for a gender-differences project for their health class. Then, a collision on a trampoline results in a body switch. As Tom and Emma frantically try to impersonate one another, each gains insight into the other's life. Just as they decide they'll have to remain switched forever, another blow to the head switches them back. Their health teacher is impressed with their reports, and Emma and Tom make tentative steps toward friendship. Physical development and differences are the focus here. The terms perv, crotch, boner, thong, and masturbation all make an appearance, with repeated references to naked pictures, and breasts. Tom, in Emma's body, gets her first period, and Emma, in Tom's body, wakes up with an erection. There are some humorous situations-Emma thinks the erection is a small animal under the covers with her-but the epiphanies reached by the characters-Emma: "Being a boy was lonely," and Tom: "-people expect more of [girls]"-are mundane. The text contains plenty of cultural references and slang that will quickly become outdated. Though middle schoolers might be intrigued by the story's frankness, most readers will be disappointed by the lack of substance.-Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A trampoline collision and a magic arrowhead cause sixth-graders Tom Witherspoon and Emma Baker to switch bodies for four long days in which they discover and learn to sympathize with gender differences. Humorously presented, the underlying point is made explicit by their assignment for health class to pay special attention to how gender creates differences in our lives. From sports and school to erections and first periods, Tom and Emma find that others' expectations and their own physical and emotional makeup shape their experiences. Through alternating chapters of third-person narrative, the reader comes to see those differences and learns that families can be different, too. Remarkably, the author succeeds in making clear exactly who is experiencing what in which body; the design reinforces this with chapter headings including traditional male and female symbols to show which bodies will be the focus. As is traditional in body-switching stories, Tom and Emma's incredible experience allows them to become friends again, a cheerful ending to a message-driven but enjoyable read. (Fiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553376036
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/11/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,456,755
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 8.07 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Blake Nelson
Blake Nelson
Blake Nelson is the author of the popular adult novel Girl. This is his first book for Viking.
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Read an Excerpt


It was a wet, drizzly morning in Seattle, Washington. Tom Witherspoon stood on the pitcher's mound at George Wilson Middle School, where he and some other people were playing a pickup baseball game before class. Tom had just struck out Zach Leland, who was throwing his usual tantrum.

"That wasn't fair!" Zach complained. "I wasn't ready!"

"Yes, you were, you wuss!" yelled the first baseman.

"You're the wuss!" Zach said, throwing down his bat.

"Sit down and let someone else have a turn!" the third baseman shouted.

Tom tugged on the bill of his perfectly worn Mariners cap. Across the field, several girls, including his neighbor Emma Baker, sat on a bench behind third base. That was where they spent their mornings, whispering, giggling, and doing whatever it was sixth-grade girls did. He and Emma had hung out when they were little kids. But now she was a member of Courtney Hall's clique, the Grrlzillas. Tom wasn't sure what the point of Grrlzillas was, except to be incredibly annoying. Maybe they had no point. Either way, Tom wished they would sit somewhere else--they were making him nervous.

Thwack. Tom slapped the ball in his glove. Still no batter. He watched Emma chattering away. The summer before fourth grade, the two of them had built a tree fort and spent countless hours in it. They would wake up early and ride their bikes around the neighborhood. Hike on the scrubby path alongside the stream next to the park and collect bugs and cool rocks. That was ancient history now.

Finally, a new batter appeared. Great. It was Jane Hennessey. Tom was not happy to see her. Jane was a tall, athletic seventh grader who had been known to hit the ball out of the park. Way out.

"Hey, Tom!" Zach yelled from the backstop. "Think you can strike out a girl?"

"I struck you out, didn't I?" Tom yelled back. He pulled down the bill of his cap so that it covered his eyes. He had practiced his pitching all winter in hopes of making the junior Little League team this spring. If he couldn't get a few fastballs past Jane Hennessey . . . well, that would be bad.

"Whaddaya waiting for? Throw it!" Zach cried.

Jane grinned, took a few practice swings, and waited for the pitch.

Tom stared at home plate. His dad had worked with him that Saturday and had shown him how to place his pitches. Tom tried to remember what his father had said about tall hitters. You pitched them low and outside. Or was it low and inside? Tom had trouble remembering details, especially under pressure. Whatever. He just needed to focus. He had to strike Jane out.

"C'mon! Throw it!" shouted the first baseman. "The bell's going to ring."

Tom took aim, wound up, and threw his best fastball. Jane lunged forward and whacked it toward third base. At that very moment, the third baseman was sharing his Skittles with the shortstop. Neither saw the ball as it shot past them.

"Hey!" Tom screamed. "Get that!"

The third baseman turned helplessly as the ball rolled into the outfield. He looked at Tom and shrugged.

Tom sprinted after the ball himself--he was medium height, thin, and one of the faster boys in his class. He used all his speed now. Under no circumstances could Jane Hennessey hit an inside-the-park home run off him.

The ball rolled to where Emma and her friends sat on their bench and stopped at Courtney Hall's feet. Tom ran to it, reached for it . . . and then Courtney kicked it.
"Don't touch that!" Tom tried again, but another girl knocked it from his grasp with her heel. The ball rolled beneath the bench and Tom dove under Margaret Cooper to get it. Unfortunately, Margaret was wearing a skirt.

"Hey!" shrieked Margaret. She was especially touchy about boys. Two days earlier, Tom's best friend, Brad Hailey, had snuck up behind her in gym class and yanked down her sweatpants in front of everyone.

"What are you doing?" Margaret yelped. "Get out! Get away from me!"

Tom was caught in the skirt and fought to untangle himself. He had to find that ball. He could not let Jane Hennessey hit a home run.

"Perv alert! Perv alert!" Courtney shouted. She and the Grrlzillas rushed to defend Margaret. Rachel Simms kicked Tom in the butt and hit him with her backpack. The other girls joined in, whacking Tom with textbooks, gym bags, whatever they had. One of them even jabbed him with an umbrella.

"Stop it!" Tom grabbed the ball and jumped to his feet. "I was trying to get the ball." He turned to Emma. "Emma, help me out."

But she frowned and crossed her arms.

Tom suddenly saw Jane Hennessey rounding third. He ran clear of the girls and threw the ball as hard as he could. It was too late. Jane jogged home easily. As a final humiliation, Courtney lobbed a Hello Kitty key chain at Tom's head. "Skirt perv!" she called.

Tom muttered under his breath as Jane high-fived her teammates.

"The things a boy will do to look up a girl's dress." Rachel shook her head.

"I was getting the ball," Tom said, his teeth clenched. "You guys were too busy yapping to notice, but Jane was going to score!"

Margaret snorted. "Yeah, right."
Tom threw up his hands. "You got me. This whole game was played so that I could look at Margaret's flowered underwear."

Ashley Orendorfer, another Grrlzilla, rolled her eyes. "Pathetic." Emma gave him a look of pure disgust.

Courtney slung her backpack over her shoulder. "Listen up, Spoonie. We're sick of boys getting away with stuff like this. S-I-C-K. From now on, we're doing stuff to you. So get used to it."

And with that, the Grrlzillas lifted their chins and defiantly marched up the hill to school.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for

    GENDER BLENDER is a fun but thought-provoking novel about gender differences for middle-schoolers. <BR/><BR/>Since they started middle school, Emma and Tom haven't been able to get along and be friends the way they used to be. <BR/><BR/>Emma hates boys--except Jeff, the cutest sixth-grade boy in school. She can only hope that he'll notice her! She gets straight-A's and is involved in a ton of after-school activities. She's worried about getting her first period, among other things. She's pretty much a typical overachieving sixth-grader. <BR/><BR/>Tom isn't what anyone would call a good student. He spends most of his time fooling around with his friends and playing baseball. He's got stuff to be stressed about, too, though. For one thing, he wants beautiful Kelly to notice him! <BR/><BR/>When their health teacher gives them an assignment on gender differences, Emma and Tom suddenly have an advantage over the rest of the class--though they don't see it that way. While jumping on a trampoline, they knock heads, and, suddenly, they've switched bodies! Can they learn to understand each other and get along in time to switch back? <BR/><BR/>GENDER BLENDER, while it is quite entertaining, deals with an important issue. Gender differences are certainly something to think about; Emma and Tom's health teacher is right--boys and girls don't really understand each other, especially in middle school (not to say that it gets completely better later, though...). Blake Nelson's novel deals with this issue in a fun, if slightly ridiculous, way, using likeable characters, as well. This is a great book for preteens of either gender!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    This book was the funniest book for american teenagers. For boys and girls. This book is abou 2 ex-friends stopped being friends bcause they got older.Though they end up switching bodies because of an arrowhead.If they don't change back in four days they will have to live in each others bodies forever.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    outstanding in every way...

    I just got GENDER BLENDER today, and I just finnished it today...It is by far one of the funniest, creative, amazing teen stories there are today. Between the fighting of the sex's, the changing of the sex's, and understanding the differences of the sex's, this book is geinus! I loved everything about it. And besides laughing about Emma getting a boner & Tom b-slapping Kelly, this book did have a good moral. I don't want to give away it all, but if you want to read a good book, try this one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2007


    I'm 13, and this is one of my favorite books. I read it last year and I still remember the whole thing! I also learned a lot from it, and it was really funny! I definently recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2014

    People who have read it

    What was your favorite part in this book?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    This book is a strangely fascinating read. I loved the book

    This book is a strangely fascinating read.

    I loved the book Gender Blender by Blake Nelson. When reading this book I noticed what an easy read it was even though it was a young adult read. At first I thought this book would have more romance between the two main characters Tom and Emma, but as the story progresses I realize it is more of a friendship book when the two characters become friends after disliking each other. Since these two characters are six graders, I would have thought that this book would be geared towards a younger crowd but I would highly recommend that children 13 to 16 years old should read it.
    In the book, the author created an aura of comedy. He had taken real life situations and made them seem not as complicated, and turned them into amusing situations. For example, when Tom was in Emma’s body when she got her period, he portrayed the humor by saying how The Grrlzilla’s helped him with the necessities and how Emma became jealous that she couldn’t be in her own body when her period came. This made me laugh about the irony of how she didn’t witness her first period when she was waiting for it.
    The author took real life situations from a teenage life and put them into an intriguing perspective in ways that other authors can’t make readers perceive.  Such as having the Grrlzilla’s as the ‘popular clique’ that made the storyline seem like a real life girl’s teenage life.
    The author uses the arrowhead in the story as the cursed item that made them switch bodies which caused you to see the other genders perspective and made it seem more interesting.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    To: below

    Look at the date that that was posted. 2008 was years ago! They probably don't exist anymore.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    To: Teens read too

    How do you get to your website?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Waste of $9

    At first i was just like, "oh, this book looks interesting." But then once i started reading it they get too much into detail about puberty and toilet humor. It is completly bizzare and i would not reccomend it to ANYONE. I give it a 3.5 out of 10 the reason it isnt a 1 out of 10 is because it had a girl boy body swap, which makes it a bit more interesting than a girl girl or a boy boy body swap. Dont get this book it is a waste of money!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    gender blender

    this book is funny as can be. Awesome,head shaking will be involved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Best Book Ever!!!!!!

    This book is so hilariously funny you'll want to read it over and over again!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Halarious Amazing!

    I absolutely loved this book. I dont really read to often but this is probably the best book that i have ever read. It is very funny and i would highly recommened this book to teens

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012


    Very good read recommended for 10-12

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012


    I would recommend this for mature 11 to 13 year olds.parents may eant to take a look first ...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Super Funny!

    I would HIGHLY recommrnd this book. If you are the kind of person who enjoys funny books and a tad bit of immaturity, this would be a great pick for you. My friend told me about it, so i gave it a try and ended up loving it and you should do the same!

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Good read!!

    Laughed right untill the end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Not what i expected

    Gender Blender was a good book. It moved very quickly. Slang and medical words are used. The beginning is kind of slow. But towards the middle and the end it is very exciting. Especially when Emma play "Seven Minutes in Heaven". Overall it's a well written, quick read for children. I recommend it for ages 10-13. It's best for trips. And can be easily read and finished on a plane ride or two. It is something that you would want/need to read again if you missed something. Parents I suggest you take a peek at this book. Because the storyline all started in sex-ed. I'm a 12 yr old girl. But I love to get rough and play with the boys. I was hooked on this book I read it 3 times in one day I liked it so much. However most of the characters are very stereotypical. The book was almost unreal. Though I can relate to some of the topics discussed in the book. Tom and Emma grew apart because they were getting older. Well Tom just got Emma's period for her. And she saved him from getting a boner that one day. For all those girls and guys who are confused about the opposite sex this is the book for you.

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  • Posted February 16, 2011


    Best book I ever read recommend for ages 11-15 great book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    good read

    omg this was agreat quick read thee end was a dissapointment thoigh

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    Fantastic Experience

    This book was fantastic and it was about a girl ,named Emma, switching bodies with a boy,named Tom. Now, they are literally both walking in each other's shoes.. They understand each other later on.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews

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