Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
As much as he likes to paint, do puzzles, and sing the loudest during circle time, Morris’ favorite part of going to school is the dress-up center. There he dons the tangerine dress, marvels at its swish and crinkle, and loves that the bright color “reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.” But that Monday, the boys and girls in his class take turns making fun of him, all dressed up with nowhere to go …
On Tuesday, the boys won’t let him on their spaceship. On Wednesday, the girls laugh at his painted pink fingernails. On Thursday, he sits alone during snack. By Friday, he claims a stomach ache and stays home. Over the weekend, Morris creates his own adventures, making blue elephants and orange tigers come alive in vibrant colors on the page. By the time he returns on Monday and reclaims his favorite costume, he’s refueled his imagination with such enticing riches that the other kids just can’t stay away. Between swishing and crinkling, Morris shows the others “where all the good adventures were hiding.”
First-time author Christine Baldacchino debunks all the shoulds and shouldn’ts of children’s behavior merely based on the number of x-chromosomes. With gentle humor and understanding, she encourages the unexpected, in spite of potentially difficult consequences. The creative rewards, as she proves with Morris’ ingenuity and resilience, are definitely worth the struggle.
Veteran illustrator Isabelle Malenfant (gotta just love that name – its Frenglish translation could be something like ‘is a beautiful, bad child’!!) – imbues young Morris with such expressiveness, from his curious joy to hurt silence to cruel rejection to hopeful triumph. She infuses Morris’ signature dress with a touch of magic, as it floats and glides all around him, poised for the next adventure. Forget caped costumes or even suits of armor … sometimes, all a boy needs is that perfectly flowing orange ensemble.