The Pants Project

Cat Clarke

Book - 2017

Eleven-year-old Liv fights to change the middle school dress code requiring girls to wear a skirt and, along the way, finds the courage to tell his moms he is meant to be a boy.

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Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks Jabberwocky [2017]
Physical Description
267 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Cat Clarke (author)
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-A wonderfully sweet middle grade story with a satisfying ending. Liv is starting middle school, and he is nervous. Liv is transgender, but he hasn't told anyone, so everyone assumes he is a girl. He will be attending a new school in the fall, and the dress code states that all girls must wear skirts. Liv takes matters into his own hands and decides to challenge the school's dress code, and along the way he finds allies in unexpected places. Peppered with a diverse cast of characters, including Liv, who is bullied at school because he has two moms, and his best friend, Jacob, who walks with a cane, this is an ultimately upbeat story that celebrates differences. Liv's family members are very supportive, and their Italian heritage shines through in their everyday lives. The hopeful tone makes it easier for readers to grapple with the serious issues discussed, and the happy-ever-after ending will not fail to satisfy. VERDICT Give to fans of Tim Federle's Better Nate Than Ever and Alex Gino's George. A strong purchase, especially in light of the need for younger middle grade fiction featuring transgender characters.-Jenni Frencham, Columbus Public Library, WI © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

Eleven-year-old Liv and best friend Maisie begin sixth grade at a new middle school with a strict uniform policy. At Bankridge, all students are required to wear a white shirt, a tie, and a black V-neck sweater. The problem for Liv is that boys can wear pants, but girls must wear a black, pleated, knee-length skirt. And while narrator Liv might look like a girlon the inside, Im a boy. Being transgender is Livs secret, though, so his obsession with the restrictive policy is hard for Maisie to fathom. Desperate to fit in and be liked, Maisie cant understand why Liv has to make such a big deal about the dress code; meanwhile, Liv doesnt get Maisies submissive behavior around the class mean girls (who bully Liv mercilessly). Strong-willed, introspective Liv is a likable and relatable protagonist; in many ways hes like most tweens, navigating friendships, his own identity, and his relationships at home. Supported by his two moms, Liv tries various methods of protest (wearing pants under the skirt, organizing a petition); he doesnt get any traction, however, until he makes some new friends, and they join the cause. Despite the one-note characterization of the mean girls and a heavy-handed message (Maybe one day all of the kids at Bankridge will just accept other people for who they are: boy or girl or transgender or gay or straight or anything. None of it really matters, does it? Its who you are inside that counts), this is a touching novel on a timely subject. kitty flynn (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

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. Hestill "she" to othersworks 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) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.