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THE PANTS PROJECT by Cat Clarke Kirkus Star


by Cat Clarke

Pub Date: March 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4926-3809-4
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

In a few months, Liv effects a major change in his new middle school’s antiquated dress code while simultaneously acquiring the courage to come out as transgender.

From the start, readers are drawn into the story by 11-year-old Liv’s believable, humor-tinged narration: “Little brothers can always be counted on to reach peak levels of annoying at exactly the wrong moment. It must be part of their job description.” Throughout, Liv’s voice is convincing and a pleasure to read. Readers learn that, over the years, Liv has become increasingly less tolerant of being assigned female pronouns and the name “Olivia.” Being required to wear a skirt daily at middle school is the last straw. He—still “she” to others—works to convince the school’s new principal that students should have some choice in clothing, moving from an unsuccessful conversation to an unpromising petition to a brilliantly orchestrated media event. Along the way, he contends with a mean-spirited bully and the loss of a former friend even as he makes new, more loyal friends and wrestles with his own shortcomings. His coming-out to friend Jacob is realistically brief and an enormous relief. Liv’s two moms add further dimension to a tale that unabashedly affirms the importance of accepting and celebrating differences. The book assumes a white default, with ethnicity cued by naming convention.

A fine addition to LGBTQ children’s literature.

(Fiction. 9-12)