Mary Wears What She Wants

by Keith Negley

Gender norms are broken in this story set in the 1830s and inspired by the life of... read more

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. Mary 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. (Ages 4–7)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

show less