Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

Title: Mary Wears What She Wants
Author: Keith Negley
Illustrator: Keith Negley
Publisher: HarperCollins (2019)
ISBN: 9780062846792

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley is a timely picture book about gender roles, confidence, tolerance and open-mindedness.

A young girl, Mary, courageously challenges the gender norms in the 1830s. She hates wearing the “heavy-and-hot-and-hard-to-breathe-in dresses” females are expected to wear. One day she wears trousers because she believes don’t always have to be the way they have always been. The townsfolk react with disapproval and shock. As she walks through the town wearing pants, they throw things at her and shout that she should not dress in boys’ clothes.

Mary sits with her father to discuss whether she should follow the people advice and stop wearing trousers. While he doesn’t tell her what to do, he tells her that people can fear what they don’t understand. Mary follows her own rules and says, “I’m wearing my clothes!” She is thrilled when she becomes at trendsetter as other girls decide to wear pants too. 

The character of Mary is loosely based on the trailblazing surgeon Mary Edwards Walker who served during the Civil War.

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Books by Keith Negley

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