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Children's Fiction Self-esteem & Self-reliance

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

by (author) Christine Baldacchino

illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2014
Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Clothing & Dress, Friendship
Recommended Age
4 to 7
Recommended Grade
p to 2
Recommended Reading age
4 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2020
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. But most of all, Morris loves his classroom’s dress-up center and its tangerine dress.

Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. He dreams about having space adventures, paints beautiful pictures and sings the loudest during circle time. But most of all, Morris loves his classroom’s dress-up center — he loves wearing the tangerine dress.

But the children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls. And Morris certainly isn’t welcome in the spaceship some of his classmates are building. Astronauts, they say, don’t wear dresses.

One day when Morris feels all alone, and sick from the taunts of his classmates, his mother lets him stay home from school. Morris reads about elephants, and puts together a puzzle, and dreams of a fantastic space adventure with his cat, Moo.

Inspired by his dream, Morris paints the incredible scene he saw, and brings it with him to school. He builds his own spaceship, hangs his painting on the front of it and takes two of his classmates on an outer space adventure.

With warm, dreamy illustrations Isabelle Malenfant perfectly captures Morris’s vulnerability and the vibrancy of his imagination. This is a sweetly told story about the courage and creativity it takes to be different.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

About the authors

CHRISTINE BALDACCHINO is a writer and artist with a background in early childhood education. She is the author of two picture books, including Violet Shrink, illustrated by Carmen Mok, a love letter to introversion, imagination and protecting one’s own energy; and the Stonewall Honor recipient Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, which won the CBC Bookie Award for Best Picture Book, was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and has appeared on a number of lists, including Kirkus Best Picture Books That Celebrate Diversity and the American Library Association’s Rainbow Book List. Christine currently lives with her husband and cat in Toronto, Ontario.

Christine Baldacchino's profile page

Isabelle Malenfant nació en Val d'Or, Quebec, y ahora vive en Montreal. De niña, a ella le gustaba dibujar y tocar instrumentos musicales. Ella tocaba flauta, además de piano, bajo, guitarra y violín. Sus asignaturas favoritas en la escuela fueron arte y biología. Estudió arte en la universidad y se licenció en Diseño Gráfico en la Universidad de Quebec, en Montreal.


Isabelle siempre ha disfrutado creando personajes y escribiendo cuentos. Antes de comenzar a ilustrar Pablo encuentra un tesoro, buscó fotos de los vertederos y de las personas que trabajan allí. Su mayor desafío fue representar las piezas de basura sin que se viera repetitivo. Después de experimentar un poco, decidió usar lápices, para crear manchas que lograran el efecto de un entorno sucio.


Lo que más disfruta del proceso creativo es idear personajes y ponerlos en escena. ¡Lo que más le gusta es ensuciarse las manos!


Isabelle vive con su pareja, sus dos hijas, un gato y un hámster enano. Cuando no está escribiendo o ilustrando, le gusta esculpir, coser, leer, escuchar música e ir al cine cuando puede.


Su consejo para los aspirantes a autores e ilustradores es divertirse y no preocuparse por las reglas.


Isabelle Malenfant's profile page


  • Commended, Stonewall Honor Books in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Winner, CBC Bookie Award for Best Picture Book
  • Commended, American Library Association Rainbow List
  • Short-listed, Blue Spruce Award
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
  • Commended, Huffington Post Best Picture Books of the Year: Most Touching/Heartwarming
  • Commended, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens
  • Commended, Kirkus Best Picture Books Celebrating Diversity
  • Commended, Today's Parent Top Picture Books of the Year
  • Commended, Quill & Quire Books of the Year for Young People

Editorial Reviews

Baldacchino’s gentle story sensitively depicts gender nonconforming children, offering them reassurance and, one hopes, acceptance by introducing other children to the concept.


[A] wonderfully moving and enriching picture book. Morris is a relateable character whom many readers will find both sympathetic and familiar.


Christine Baldacchino's story and Isabelle Malenfant's delightful illustrations show how being different is sometimes the bravest thing you can be.

National Post

First-time author Christine Baldacchino debunks all the shoulds and shouldn’ts of children’s behavior merely based on the number of x-chromosomes. . . . Veteran illustrator Isabelle Malenfant imbues young Morris with such expressiveness, from his curious joy to hurt silence to cruel rejection to hopeful triumph.


[R]ather than presenting an overt message about gender identity, the book provides a subtle and refreshing glimpse at a boy who simply likes to dress up.

School Library Journal

Baldacchino doesn’t sugar-coat the teasing and isolation Morris endures. . . . Malenfant showcases Morris’s full emotional spectrum.

Publishers Weekly

Morris is a complex character whose creativity and personality shine. . . . Sensitive and reassuring.


Unlike some more messagey titles on the subject, this one provides Morris with a personality beyond his dress-loving nature, making him enjoyable literary company.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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