Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

ISBN13: 9780738732510

Grades 9 – 12


Plot Summary


Critical Evaluation

This story contains mature themes such as teen peer pressure, family relationships and LGBTQ-specific experiences. It also explores prejudice, tolerance and acceptance issues that resonate with teen readers.

Reader’s Annotation


Information about the Author

Kristin Cronn-Mills is a mid-western soccer mom, among many other things. Learning to read at the age of 3, Kristin has been a writer of sorts and an avid reader her whole life. She started writing poems and then YA fiction and nonfiction. She teaches at a two-year college in Minnesota and by her own description on her website “writes a lot, reads as much as she can… and loves to play outside.” Kristin lives with her son and husband in Minnesota.

Genre: Fiction – YA; LGBTQ


Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award winner (2014), Stonewall Book Award-Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award (2014),  IPPY silver medal for Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Fiction, ALA’s 2013 Rainbow List (as a Top Ten Pick) as well as their 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults list

Content Area

This book adds support for teaching more inclusive school culture. As an examination of social and family life studies, it offers an LGBT inclusive teaching opportunity for teachers and librarians in connection with any humanities and upper grade discussion.

Booktalk Ideas

Use pages 18-19 where Elizabeth (Gabe) discusses with his best friend Paige exactly how he should approach his long-time role model John and tell him he is really a transgender boy. After some discussion, Gabe acknowledges that he has romantic feelings for Paige, “IMPOSSIBLE” though they may be.

Text Measures/Reading Level:

Quantitative: Lexile Measure®HL600

Reading Level: ATOS 3.9

Interest Age: Upper Grades (9-12)

Challenge/Defense: The plot contains profanity, sexual references, violence, and negative stereotypes. The story, told from the point of view of the main character, is told in an authentic voice. The words and voice of a transgender teen who lives in today’s world. This book handles these mature elements realistically and with purpose. There is no gratuitous use of profanity or glorified scenes of violence.

Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at

GLBTRT Book Challenge resources and evaluation guidlines for LGBT materials for teens, go to the ALA website at and the GLBTRT website at

Additional/Digital Content

Author Website:

Why This Book?


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