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Mary Wears What She Wants
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Mary Wears What She Wants

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who bucked the gender expectations of her time, this is a fresh, charming picture book about a young girl who decides to wear what she wants: pants!

Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses.

And only boys wore pants.

Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She woul
Hardcover, 42 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
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4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  292 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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"I don't wear men's clothes, I wear my own clothes."
What a fab picture book which introduces us to Mary Edwards Walker who was one of the first known women to wear trousers! Simplistically told with bright stylised illustrations, this story will encourage young readers to challenge gender and societal norms. (I love my jeans! Thanks Mary!)
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Picture-Books Introducing the Concept of Gendered Dress to Young Children
Inspired by the story of Mary Edwards Walker, an unconventional nineteenth-century American woman who insisted on wearing pants, author/illustrator Keith Negley spins the tale of schoolgirl Mary in this, his third picture-book. Uncomfortable in the hot, stuffy dresses she is forced to wear, Mary rebels and puts on some pants. When this causes outrage in her community, she bravely carries on, insisting that she is not wearing men's clothing, she is wearing her clothing...

I had mixed feelings abou
Baby Bookworm
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley, a picture book reimagining of the childhood of trailblazer Mary Edwards Walker.

Long ago, it was illegal for girls to wear pants. Women and girls could only wear dresses, which were cumbersome, uncomfortable, and restrictive. Little Mary thinks this is unfair, so she makes a decision: she will wear pants instead of her
Laura Harrison
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
2019 is already beginning with some pretty amazing picture book biographies. Mary Wears Want She Wants is one of them. Well written, entertaining and with some eye popping, creative and beautiful illustrations. I love it!
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the woman this book is about. She is the definition of a feminist, and the fact that she stood her ground is amazing. Even more impressive, she graduated from medical school and became a surgeon, then still fought for women's rights to vote! She just may be my new idol.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mary defies 19th Century gender norms by wearing pants.

Inspired by the story of Mary Edwards Walker, this picture book tells the story of a young girl who decides to try wearing pants and discovers that she likes it. They are much more comfortable than the tightly laced dresses that she is supposed to wear.

The backlash for breaking this social taboo is almost immediate. But luckily, Mary has a very understanding and progressive father with whom she can talk things over. He explains, "Sometimes
Jenny Yergin
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this! Its a great way for children to learn about Mary Walker and all that she accomplished for women. The artwork is gorgeous and is perfect for the story. I am very thankful she was such a pioneer for women's rights.
Megan - Alohamora Open a Book
"Mary didn't understand why everyone cared so much about what she wore.
They've never seen a girl wearing pants before, said her father. Sometimes people get scared of what they don't understand."

"I'm not wearing boys' clothes. I'm wearing MY clothes!"

A fantastic story based on Mary Edwards Walker. Mary Walker lived in the 19th century. She wore pants, arrested for doing so, became a doctor, and a surgeon in the Civil War. She was most definitely an activist for women and fighting "social norm
Randi Kennedy
LGBTQ adjacent tale about Mary Walker, who challenged gender roles to become a doctor, wear pants, and win a Congressional Meal of Honor for her work in the Civil Way.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully illustrated and wonderful. I love that there are more children's books coming out giving a re-telling of someone who did something bold in history. This one about Mary Walker didn't disappoint and you KNOW I had to wear pants today.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
History done righty.
Kristina Jean Lareau
A delightfully imaginative and entertaining mini-bio of Mary Walker, the woman who wore pants. Not only is the text concise, the use of color and white space is expertly illustrated. An informative author's note gives more info about Mary Walker's life. Truly a delightful book.
Mary Lee
"I don't wear men's clothes. I wear my own clothes."
Young Mary hates wearing dresses all of the time. It's so restricting! She can't bend over to pet her cat or play on the playground with the boys. One day she decides to wear pants to school. This causes such an uproar that Mary isn't sure she made the right choice. Her father helps her understand that she must do what's right for her. Thus, the pants-wearing continues!

Fantastic picture book bio of Mary Edwards Walker!
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
This is loosely based on Mary Edwards Walker. Walker was a trailblazer by wearing pants instead of dresses, attending medical school, volunteering as an army surgeon during the Civil War, and so much more.

Mary Wears What She Wants is a standout in the field of picture books breaking gender stereotypes. While Mary breaks social protocol by wearing pants, she also experiences social backlash and doubts her decision. However, her decision ultimately paves the way for other girls in her class to we
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eb
This book tells the story of Mary Edwards Walker, a woman who, aside from her various accomplishments, elected to wear pants at a time when it was unheard of and even illegal. I loved this book! I didn't feel like it was trying too hard to sell a message. I liked that the text was simple yet very honest. Though the book is based on a true historical figure, it has a bit of a fantastical feel. This is partly because of the graphic, striking illustrations that use bright pinks and drab blues. Part ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Based on the real-life story of Mary Edwards Walker, who turned heads and drew ire when she dressed in pants mid-1800’s. This picture book shows a little girl of that time deciding to wear pants herself. The book firmly sets itself in the time period by explaining about societal expectations and the limitations that dresses placed on girls. The strong reaction of the townsfolk makes Mary question whether wearing pants is worth their anger. With her father’s support, she decides to continue weari ...more
Erin Buhr
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
This is the kind of book that makes you laugh and think and close it and rush to your nearest friend to insist they read it too. Or at least that's what it made me do at the bookstore before I happily added it to my must-own pile to bring home. It is a story based on Mary Walker, one of the first women to wear pants. Her defiant spunk is well captured on the pages. It is also a brilliant example of the marrying of text and illustrations on the page to tell a story and heighten humor. A well craf ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
unique illustrations. lots of pink. simply drawn but faces have lots of expressions. 1-3 sentences per page. easy for preschool storytime, class visit grades k-2 but sometimes it might be a bit hard for a large group to see the expressions on characters. good message.
based on true story with note about the real Mary at the end. includes and black and white photo of her wearing an elegnat suit. she wore pants, graduated medical school, was a surgeon in civil war, won a Congressional Medal of Hon
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun book that introduces us to Mary Edwards Walker, who needs to be known for much more than just wearing pants. The back story shares a photo of Mary, wearing pants, of course. It also tells us she was a doctor who served in the Civil War, was captured by the Confederates, and was the only woman to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Even though this story doesn’t share all of that, I think it’s a good way to introduce preschoolers to strong women and Women’s History Month. I’m going ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an adorable introductory book for young readers and listeners about a brilliant woman who was ahead of her time, Mary Walker. A few years ago my daughter and I read Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero, by Cheryl Harness and were sad to find that was the only children’s reading material we could find about her, other than in compendiums of woman who changed history. So, thank you to Keith Negley for creating this much needed resource for ...more
The illustrations are bright and beautiful, and I like that Mary is based off of a real person: Mary Walker, one of the first women to wear pants. It teaches to stand up for what you believe in, even when facing adversity. I do wish the story didn't imply that pants are better than dresses. Instead, the lesson ought to be that you don't have to wear dresses if you don't want to, nor pants for that matter.
This book is ok. The story is nice and it would be an acceptable read during women's history month. I love his style of drawing people, but the color palette leaves a lot to be desired. It kind of indicates people with non-white skin tones using pink, blue, etc.; but since it's not specific to anything, it represents nothing and falls absolutely flat. It's like he wanted to check the most basic box of "not all the background people are white" but it's absolutely meaningless.
Amanda Walz
I have mixed feelings about this one. At face value I think it's a good picture book about a girl who wears pants in a time that it is very scandalous for her to do so. It reads as fiction. Then at the end it shares that the girl is real, but everything in the book didn't really happen. It is only imagined. Except it does say it's imagined but it implies that it is.... I can't say I would recommend it, but it is a good story.....
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
This book is beautiful to look at and features a cool story I was not yet familiar with. I like the historical info at the back. Not sure the illustrations will appeal to kids as much as they do to adults, but I enjoyed it. I especially like Negley's re-telling of the conversation between Mary and her father.
Cara Byrne
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book for so many reasons. First, the illustrations (with their unique color scheme and great use of pattern) are wonderful. Second, Negley has found an interesting way to present a history long forgotten by many. And finally, this is a great compliment to books I teach about gender nonconformity (like Sparkle Boy, Julian is a Mermain, and Morris Micklewhite).
Brooklyn Cribdon (Kemp)
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is such a fantastic non-fic picturebook!! The artwork is simple yet gorgeous and uses a lovely colour pallet. The story is fun, engaging, and inspiring, and I feel like it would start an awesome conversation if read in a group like storytime or a classroom. I also appreciate the back matter that shares the story of the real Mary ;)
Viviane Elbee
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about Mary Walker’s choice to wear pants despite intense opposition because women during her time liked to wear dresses. However, Mary’s other accomplishments, like the fact that she was a doctor and won a prestigious military award are only included in the back matter. I think this book would work with preschoolers and elementary students, but probably best for elementary.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This picture book is the true story of Mary Walker, who shocked the world by wearing... pants!?! Back in the mid-1800s, this was unheard of, and it made many people upset! That didn't stop her, though, and in doing so, helped defy the notion that all girls and women must wear dresses-- and reminds us all to wear what we feel comfortable in.
Jillian Heise
I wish there was a bit more of the back matter info incorporated into the actual story, as it seemed to lack a bit of depth - I wondered as I was reading if this was a fictional story or that of a real person. But I liked the idea of telling Mary Edwards Walker's story, though was surprised it was a male author telling it.
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Keith's work has appeared on book covers, children's books, t-shirts, album covers, posters, skateboard decks, and even a watch. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and New Yorker in addition to many other national publications. He received his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2000, and his MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2013 and doesn’t ...more