Written by Marcus Ewert
Illustrated by Rex Ray
Published by Seven Stories Press, 2008
Themes: transgender people, self-perception, dresses, relationships,
Every night Bailey dreamed about dresses.
Every night Bailey, a little boy, dreams of dresses. Bailey proceeds downstairs to discuss the matter with “her” mother. When Bailey’s mother tells “her” that she can’t wear dresses because she’s a boy. Bailey’s father gives his son/daughter a similar line. The older brother’s take is even harsher,”That’s gross”, and “Get out of here, before I kick you!” Bailey doubts if she will ever be able to express her true self and her abundant creativity. Bailey’s chance encounter with Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage, develops into a sweet friendship and great creative partnership.
Why I like this book:
There’s a lot of repetition to the tale, which is very effective. Ewert’s choice of the pronoun “she” for this little boy is powerful, but will probably need explanation to younger children. Ray’s cut papers are quite lovely, particularly when you’re looking at something like a dress made of lilies and roses. Ray’s choice to give Bailey only three expressions is interesting and will work for some readers more than others
For some children, boys who like to wear dresses or girls who refuse, this book will speak directly to them. It will also speak to all children who know other kids who are a little bit different from everybody else. It is a challenging and important topic, which has been increasingly in the news as schools discuss bathroom use for transgender children. There are very few picture books that address the topic of transgender children, and I believe this to be a very valuable contribution to this discussion. Ewert has opted for very realistic fiction here, with negative responses from Bailey’s immediate family. These responses will need to be discussed with all young readers. The art work is brilliant in these scenes as Ray has chosen to cut off the parents’ and elder brother’s heads and we see everything from Bailey’s shorter perspective with the focus on her!
Exciting news is that Marcus Ewert is currently working on the sequel, which will be more of a middle reader: BAILEY AND THE VALENTINE CASTLE. Due out sometime next year he hopes!
Discussion/explanation/questions…… this will be a new concept/topic for many/most children to whom this book is read.
If you have boy and girl dolls/stuffed animals with clothes, then maybe a playtime where they can wear clothes not typical to their gender.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.