A purse-wearing boy inspires others to wear and do what they wish, too.
Charlie, a brown-skinned boy with curly dark hair, loves the red purse his grandmother gave him and decides to wear it to school. His father objects, saying that Charlie shouldn’t wear a purse to school since he’s a boy, adding that he likes wearing his Hawaiian shirts, but they’re not appropriate for the workplace. Charlie rejects his father’s gender-role–conformist rationale in a matter-of-fact manner and carries on. Once at school, he encounters similar resistance and justifications from a white girl in his class and an older white boy (who say they don’t indulge in face-painting and would prefer to make their own lunch, respectively, with the latter connection seeming rather dubious). A white crossing guard is the first who seems inspired by Charlie’s determination to do as he pleases—the purse reminds him of his sparkly shoes. As the week progresses, all those who questioned Charlie’s purse-wearing end up accepting his nonconformist streak and embracing their own uniqueness. Dad wears his Hawaiian shirt, the girl paints her face like a tiger, the crossing guard wears his sparkly shoes, and in a plot element that seems like a forced connection at best, the older boy takes over lunch preparation in the cafeteria. The art does little to expand upon the text and its tidy resolution, though its playful style provides visual appeal.
Affirming of gender nonconformity if somewhat fragmented. (Picture book. 5-8)