Mary Wears What She Wants

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By Keith Negley

Balzer + Bray, 2019
40 pages

Trigger Warnings: girls wearing pants

About the Author: Keith Negley lives in Bellingham, Washington with his family, where he teaches at Western Washington University. He has written and illustrated picture books Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) and My Dad Used to Be So Cool. His work has appeared in a variety of formats, including The New York Times and New Yorker. You can find more about him at: https://keithnegley.com.

“I’m not wearing boys’ clothes,” said Mary. “I’m wearing my clothes!”

Mary is daring. Mary is sassy. Mary is not afraid to wear what she wants.

Mary Wears What She Wants tells the story of a time “not too long ago,” when girls weren’t allowed to wear pants. It’s inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, one of the first women known to regularly wear pants, who revolutionized accepted women’s fashion.

The book is cute and quirky, depicting Mary as smaller in stature than her community but with twice the powerful personality. Negley uses simple language, focusing mostly on character faces and actions to deliver the full plot. Mary is a character who stands up for the “great idea” that she believes in, even if it means taunts from her community, who argue that only “real women wear dresses.”

Mary Wears What She Wants is a fun read, reminiscent of strict dress codes yet indicative of individual power to create change.

PRR Writer: Mandy Becker

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