I am loving the variety of books I am reading to complete this challenge, and today’s story comes under #5 bullying and #3 in as far as this little boy is questioning and non-conforming!
Title: Morris Micklethwite and the Tangerine Dress
Written by: Christine Baldacchino
Illustrated by: Isabelle Malenfant
Published by: Groundwood Books, 2014
Themes/Topics: Being oneself, gender questioning, LGBTQ, courage, creativity, bullying
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Teaser from page 5:
Most of all, Morris likes the dress-up center.
And the tangerine dress.
Morris likes the color of the dress.
It reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.
Morris is a creative little boy who loves color and imaginative play. At school what Morris loves most is wearing the tangerine dress in his classroom’s dress-up center and a certain pair of shoes that make a lovely click click as he walks. he loves both the color and sounds the dress makes. His classmates don’t understand. Both the boys and girls deem dresses for girls only and boys in dresses can’t play in a spaceship because astronauts don’t wear dresses.
When Morris tells his understanding Mom that he feels sick, she lets him stay home from school where he regathers his courage by painting an amazing space adventure inspired by a dream he has. On Monday back at school, shunned at first again, he builds his own ship and hangs his painting on the front of it, wowing the boys whom he allows to join him on his space adventure, dressed, of course, in the tangerine dress.
Why I like This Book:
Isabelle Malenfant illustrations are vibrant and dreamy and create Morris’ world of color and imagination and courage so beautifully. The fact that the color as much as the form of the garment resonate with Morris, is poignant for me. This is a story of courage and standing up against bullies, and about being oneself even if that is outside of the norms of today’s society. While this is not an overt message about gender identity, it is a sweet story of a child pushing certain boundaries, questioning and exploring what pleases him, something to encourage in every single child.
My favorite scene is when Morris is showing his post dream painting to his mom of himself in the dress atop a blue elephant and the mom asks who that is and the text says,
Morris was hoping she’d ask. “That’s me,” he said.
Read and compare to 100,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert