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Morris Micklewhite and the tangerine dress
2014
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Summary
Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. But most of all, Morris loves wearing the tangerine dress in his classroom's dress-up center. The children in Morris's class don't understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls. And Morris certainly isn't welcome in the spaceship some of his classmates are building. Astronauts, they say, don't wear dresses. One day when Morris feels all alone and sick from their taunts, his mother lets him stay home from school. Morris dreams of a fantastic space adventure with his cat, Moo. Inspired by his dream, Morris paints the incredible scene he saw and brings it with him to school. He builds his own spaceship, hangs his painting on the front of it and takes two of his classmates on an outer space adventure. With warm, dreamy illustrations, Isabelle Malenfant perfectly captures Morris's vulnerability and the vibrancy of his imagination.
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School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 1-Throughout this heartening story, touches of tangerine point to the elements in Morris's world that are important to him: his mother's flaming tresses; his cat, Moo; and a dress from the school dress-up box. When he wears it, he feels wonderful. White is a well-chosen background foil for Malenfant's watercolors and charcoals; the soft acrylics comprising the vibrant dress "bleed"-a perfect effect for indicating movement. A marvelous spread shows Morris reveling in the color that swirls across the gutter as he thinks about his mother's hair, tigers, and the sun. The text details the fabric's swishes and crinkles and the click of the boy's heels. When the children tease and ostracize him, he pretends not to notice, but by Friday, he stays home with a stomachache. The role of adults is particularly well handled. There is no deus ex machina (teacher intervention), a situation that rings true for many such interactions. His mother does not pass judgment when she notices a boy wearing a dress in her son's painting, and she complies with his desire for nail polish. This support and Morris's irrepressible imagination buoy him as he returns to school, where his creative spaceship is a magnet for the boys; walls begin to crumble. Baldacchino offers an alternative model for families to the one depicted in Marcus Ewert's 10,000 Dresses (Seven Stories, 2008), and rather than presenting an overt message about gender identity, the book provides a subtle and refreshing glimpse at a boy who simply likes to dress up.-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Morris likes to do lots of things at school: paint, do puzzles, drink apple juice, and sing. Most of all, he likes wearing a tangerine dress from the dress-up center. He likes the color, the swishing noises the dress makes when he walks, and the crinkle, crinkle, crinkle when he sits down. Sometimes the boys and girls make fun of him and ostracize him, refusing to sit with him or let him ride in their spaceship. When Morris draws a picture of a safari adventure and shares it at school, Eli and Henry still won't let him on their spaceship, so Morris builds his own and hangs his painting on the front of it. Intrigued, the boys follow Morris to a planet they had never visited before and decide that it doesn't make any difference if astronauts wear dresses. Like Sarah and Ian Hoffman's Jacob's New Dress (2014), Baldacchino's gentle story sensitively depicts gender nonconforming children, offering them reassurance and, one hopes, acceptance by introducing other children to the concept. An excellent book for discussion.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist
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