Author: Christine Baldacchino
Illustrator: Isabelle Malenfant
Publisher: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi, 2014
Intended Age: 4-7 (I think 3-10)
Theme: Individuality, Bullying, Gender Roles
Opening Line: "Morris Micklewhite has a mother named Moira and a cat named Moo."
Synopsis: The children in Morris' class tease him when he wears a dress from the costume box.
What I like about this book: The author tells us that Morris loves school and I believed it. I absolutely felt his pain when he stayed home because of teasing. The language is gorgeous. My FAVORITE lines:
"Morris likes the color of the dress. It reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother's hair."
Did you get chills reading that!?
The issue of gender roles and gender identity is dealt with in a way that all children can relate to. It shouldn't matter if astronauts wear dresses. Boys or girls. It is a story about being different. It is also a great resource for families looking to expand their diverse book collection.
- View the book trailer for Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress here.
- Read a review in the Wisconsin English Journal that includes this as a "controversial" book. Why anyone would label this book controversial is hard to believe. The book was a Stonewall Honor Book for 2015 (a honor given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience) but the book isn't a treatise about gender. It's about a sweet, gentle, imaginative boy. Yes, it raises gender issues and awareness, but it does it as part of Morris' story, without agenda. I wrote my review before the Jenner interview and the Gray arrest in Baltimore but now it feels particularly timely as we explain those events to older children and remind them that part of life is accepting and getting along with all the people around us because we're all just people.
- Let children select clothes from the dress-up box. Talk about why they selected what they did. Would they want to switch with the child next to them? Why or why not?
- Ask children what color reminds each of their family. Would they want to wear this color?
- List character traits for a good astronaut. Go to Nasa's astronaut selection page. Does it say anything about gender or dress code?
- For older readers, the author wrote a thoughtful post about bullying and being bullied.
- For further reading, Joanna Marple's review of this book can be found here.
Thanks for stopping by! :)