Friday, May 1, 2015

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress - #PPBF

     Last week I shared the first of two posts about picture books on the theme of individuality. I hope you enjoy the second recommendation! I'll be away this weekend at the Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI Spring retreat, so I'll be reading comments (and catching up on the other picture books recommended this week!) next Monday.

TITLE: Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress
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. 
This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF
Thanks for stopping by! :)


  1. Oh this book looks fantastic! Just the other night my 4 year old son asked me to buy him a dress. The question came right out of the blue and I was at a loss as to how I should respond. While I don't want to be the kind of parent that pushes a gender roles on my child I also don't him to be made fun of. This book might be just the thing I need to approach the subject!

    1. My boys dressed up in all sorts of things. Kids are curious!

  2. This is one book I always pull out for display at the library ( they sure are patient with my antics there!). I love the art too!

    1. Good for you! The illustrations have a lyrical quality that I didn't expect.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I'm not familiar with Groundwood Books. It's good to see diverse stories being published.

    1. Thanks, Manju! I love finding a gem in my library stack.

  4. I just ordered this book! I love how the author addresses gender role as if it is natural for a child to be curious and play. Great review!

    1. I had to return my library copy, Pat. Lucky you to have this coming for your home library. :) SO many good books.

  5. Love your astronaut activity! I agree, this is really not controversial. I loved the vitality of this shook and reviewed it a few weeks back as part of my diversity series on Mondays. Great choice for PPBF.

    1. Glad you liked the activity, Joanna. I will find your post and add a link!