She wished her mom understood her. Annie felt weird in dresses. She was happiest when she wore her plaid shirt. Why couldn’t her mom see that?
Written by: Stacy B. Davids
Illustrated by: Rachael Balsaitis
For ages: 3-8 years
Topics Covered: Self-Acceptance, Gender Expression, Family
Summary: Whether at a party, at school or at home, Annie can always be found wearing her favorite plaid shirt. Others don’t always understand, and Annie runs into a quandary when she is told she must wear a dress to her uncle’s wedding. Will Annie be able to express herself the way she wants to, despite her mom’s expectations?
Annie’s Plaid Shirt is a snapshot of just two days in Annie’s life, but their importance cannot be understated. Annie rides through the pages on her skateboard, climbing trees and breaking piñatas, and though other children snicker and stare in the background, Annie continues on, living her life the way she wants to. But dealing with parental expectations is harder for Annie, and she dutifully hangs her head and tries on dresses at the mall, even though she knows that they don’t express how she feels inside and how she wants to be seen. She has an ally in her supportive older brother Albert, who talks to their mom on Annie’s behalf, and aides her in her daring plan to come up with a new outfit for the wedding. Her mother is also a sympathetic character, revealing to Albert that she is “worried about what other people will think” about Annie’s gender expression. With this internal struggle going on behind the scenes, it is all the more heartwarming and uplifting when Annie’s mom sees Annie in her wedding outfit and exclaims “It’s perfect! You look so beautiful!”
This book affirms Annie’s gender expression just as as it is, without applying any labels to it. She just feels good in her plaid shirt, and that’s why she wears it, no matter what others think. She is able to think creatively about her dilemma, and solves the problem all on her own, showing bravery and self-acceptance the whole way through.
- What is your favorite piece of clothing?
- How does it make you feel when you wear it?
- Have you ever had to wear something that you didn’t want to wear?
- How did that make you feel?
- Is there someone in your life that stands up for you like Annie’s brother does for her?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Have kids design their own piece of clothing, and write about how it would feel to wear that piece of clothing.
- Books that also deal with this topic:
- The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya
- Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman
- Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Stacy B. Davids, Ph.D. (she/her) writes fiction and nonfiction books for kids and is a licensed psychologist. She’s also an independent publisher at Upswing Press. Her award-winning, 5-star rated children’s picture book, Annie’s Plaid Shirt, addresses the important concepts of gender roles, individuality, and self-esteem. You can get a sneak peak of the interior pages here.
As a kid, Stacy wanted to become either a teacher or a psychologist. She became both – First a special education teacher, then a clinical psychologist.
Besides being an author and indie publisher, Stacy works as a school psychologist. She has a special interest in students with disabilities. She lives in North Miami Beach, Florida.
Rachael Balsaitis (she/her) is a Minnesota-based watercolor illustrator with a love for the sweet and quirky. Having studied at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she was lucky enough to take a class from local-legend Nancy Carlson who introduced her to what would become her life passion – illustrating picture books. She shares her curiously decorated apartment with her pet rats and guinea pigs, and an assortment of house plants.