This anachronistic entry about a popular duo in the Ready-to-Read series addresses gender issues for newly independent readers. Second-grader Pinky is bullied by third-grader Kevin for his friendship with a girl, best buddy Rex, and for his love of the color pink. Kevin warns Anthony not to play with Pinky, or ""You might turn into a girl, too!"" Pinky, whose real name is William, is upset enough that he asks to be called Billy and decides to end his friendship with Rex, too. An elderly neighbor, Mrs. Morgan, tells him her own childhood tale of lost identity, and Pinky finds the courage to stare Kevin down. Howe (Pinky and Rex and the New Baby, 1993, etc.) sends a positive message to children to be themselves, an idea sensitively illustrated by Sweet. But Mrs. Morgan's monologues are laced with preachiness and compassion that seem more convenient than real. Meanwhile, Rex is only a marginal figure, barely sketched into the tale; all her behavior is described rather than shown.