When two students are bullied in the bathroom, their class makes new rules so that everyone can pee in peace in this follow-up to Jacob’s New Dress (2014).
Jacob, a white boy with blond hair, and his friend Sophie, a girl with brown skin and Afro-textured hair, need to use the bathroom after library time. Jacob wears a dress; Sophie has on a button-down shirt and khaki trousers. “Do you think it’s OK?” they worry together outside the gender-segregated lavs, each marked with the familiar blue, gendered icons. Entering the boys’ room, Jacob attracts unwelcoming stares, and Sophie is likewise driven from the girls’ room. With the help of their teacher, they work together with their classmates to design new signs and rules so that anyone can use the bathroom without fear. Case’s watercolor illustrations match the style of the first book’s and fill the page, inviting readers into Jacob’s diversely depicted class of students. Unlike in the first book, no children tell Jacob he can’t wear a dress, but his classmates still make assumptions about gender based on one another’s clothing choices. Their teacher’s lesson shows that there are more than two ways to dress—not all boys wear short hair, and not all girls wear long hair or dresses. Even their own classroom represents a spectrum of expressions. While the overall theme emphasizes inclusion, the language never moves beyond “boys and girls” when referring to gender identities; nonbinary identities are not explored.
Solid as a stand-alone for new readers or as a continuation of the conversation about gender expression started in the first book. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)