Young Morris definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer.
He likes his mom and his cat and lots of school activities. He especially enjoys the dress-up center, where he chooses a tangerine-colored dress that reminds him of “tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.” The dress also makes delightful sounds as he moves, and when he adds shoes that click, his joy is complete. None of this sits well with the other kids, who tease and ostracize him, leaving him isolated. One lonely Friday, hurt and upset, he pretends a tummy ache and stays home from school. Supported by his mother’s soothing, calming encouragement, he reads, dreams, and paints wild and wonderful adventures with blue elephants and spaceships. When he returns to school, tangerine dress and all, he wins over his classmates with his imaginative play and his new self-confidence. Baldacchino treats the tricky and controversial subject of expected gender behaviors and bullying with care and compassion, employing language and tone that avoid histrionics or preaching. Morris is a complex character whose creativity and personality shine. Malenfant’s lively and colorful illustrations, rendered in an unusual mix of charcoal, watercolor, pastel and Photoshop, are appealing and eye-catching and clearly depict Morris’ difficulties, dreams and triumphs. An opportunity for a cozy read-together and a lively discussion.
Sensitive and reassuring. (Picture book. 4-8)