a delightful tale about the courage and creativity it takes to be different...

Morris Micklewhite and The Tangerine Dress by Baldacchino, Christine Malenfant, Isabelle

Imaginative and wildly creative, little Morris likes to paint and sing and do puzzles while humming to himself. He loves the tangerine dress because its color “reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair”; he loves the sound it makes, too: “swish, swish, swish when he walks and crinkle, crinkle, crinkle when he sits down.”

When the boys make fun of him and the girls jeer at the pink nail polish on his fingers, he pretends not to notice them, but his heart aches with anguish.

His classmates even shun him from the spaceship they are building — “Astronauts don’t wear dresses,” they scoff.

One day, Morris is so crestfallen over the ceaseless bullying that he begins to feel physically ill. (Indeed, psychologists are now finding that “social pain” has biological repercussions.) He is sent home, where he dreams up a grand space adventure with his cat Moo.

The next day, Morris takes out his brushes and paints a wild, vibrant picture of his dream, complete with a shiny space helmet for Moo. In the drawing, Morris is wearing his beloved tangerine dress riding atop a big blue elephant.

"On Monday, Morris went to school with his painting rolled up in his backpack.

When he had the chance, he put on the dress that reminded him of tigers and the sun and his mother’s hair.

Morris swish, swish, swished. The tangerine dress crinkle, crinkle, crinkled. His shoes click, click, clicked. Morris felt wonderful."

The boys in his class are so enchanted by the space-world Morris dreamt up — a world into which he welcomes them — that they decide “it didn’t matter if astronauts wore dresses or not” because “the best astronauts were the ones who knew where all the good adventures were hiding.” With a quiet smile, Morris accepts their acceptance.

"When snack time was over, Becky demanded the dress.Morris told her she could have it when he was done with it.“Boys don’t wear dresses,” Becky snipped.Morris smiled as he swished, crinkled and clicked back to his spaceship.“This boy does.”"

Luckily for us the world isn't black and white. it's a kaleidoscope of color, shapes and light. We should be embracing our differences and learn to see the world through the eyes of a child. Our ideas of what is the "norm" does not and should never be concrete. As parents we need to encourage, love and protect our children; not stifle or bully them to conform to our beliefs. Instead we need to step back and watch our child blossom, grow and come into their own.

"Loving our own children is an exercise for the imagination.” - Andrew Solomon

Integrity ● Service ● Respect and a Love of Books.

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