10,000 Dresses (Marcus Ewert)

Hello, friends! Our book today is 10,000 Dresses, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray, a look into the dreams and struggles of a young transgender girl.

When Bailey dreams, she dreams of dresses – 10,000 in total. Each dress is a wonder, made of crystals or flowers or windows into far-off lands. But whenever Bailey wakes up and shares her dreams with her family, she is met with uncharitable reactions: “You’re a BOY!” they say, “you shouldn’t be thinking about dresses.” Bailey tells them that she doesn’t feel like a boy, but they refuse to hear it, and her brother even cruelly bullies her. Seeking solitude, she walks to the end of the road and finds an older girl making a dress; Laurel has the skill for dressmaking but lacks inspiration. Bailey shares her dreams with Laurel and together, they begin to make Bailey’s dream dresses a reality.

This one is tough. Bailey’s dreams are so lovely, and the way the text uses her preferred pronouns from the start captures the confusion and frustration of trans people knowing who they are while the world tells them something else. My concerns lie with Bailey’s family: while their attitudes and reactions are sadly accurate of the families of many trans people, I’m on the fence on whether this honest depiction is right for a picture book. Likewise, I LOVED the interactions with Laurel at the end, which gives hope of finding and making one’s own family – again, as many transgender people must do – but it raises the question: what will Bailey’s family do when they discover she’s been making and wearing dresses? Overall, I think this is a blunt yet hopeful depiction of life as a trans child, but when sharing it with bookworms, be sure to include a conversation to discuss questions they may have. Otherwise, the mixed-media art carries to the story and its themes beautifully, the length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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