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Mary Wears What She Wants

by Keith Negley

Published by Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2019
40 pages
ISBN: 978-06-284679-2

Ages 4-7

Gender norms are broken in this story set in the 1830s and inspired by the life of Mary Edwards Walker, who enjoyed wearing pants before it was common practice for women to do so. Tired of being limited to hot, heavy, constricting dresses, Mary decides to branch out. Pants are much more comfortable, more flexible! She feels liberated—until she ventures into town and, baffled, realizes that others are offended by her outfit. They’re “scared of what they don’t understand,” explains her quietly supportive father. Although she’s nervous, Mary decides to try it again the next day, striding purposefully toward school wearing pants. This time, she challenges semantics with a smart comeback prepared for those who harass her for wearing boys’ clothes: “I’m wearing my clothes!” Color-pencil and cut-paper illustrations cleverly show confident, spunky Mary dressed in bright yellow, standing out in a crowd of people wearing blues and hot pinks in a story that stoutly affirms those who choose to go against the grain. A short biography of trailblazing Mary Edwards Walker follows the story. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center



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