10,000 Dresses

Written by: Marcus Ewert

Illustrated by: Rex Ray

For Ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trans Youth Experience, Self-Acceptance, Acceptance, Family, Gender Identity.

Summary: This story covers Bailey, who dreams about dresses every night. She dreams of crystal dresses, of musical tinkling dresses that sparkle in the sun. When she wakes up, Bailey asks her mother to make her a dress like the one in her dreams. Bailey’s mother says that Bailey can’t wear dresses, because Bailey is a boy. Her mother tells her to go away, and not mention wearing dresses again. The next night, Bailey dreams of a dress made of flowers. She asks her father to make her a dress of lilies and roses. Bailey’s father tells her she is a boy, and to go away and not mention dresses. That night, Bailey dreams of a dress made out of windows. Bailey finds her brother and asks him to make her a dress made of windows, but he threatens to kick her and says it’s gross for a boy to dream about dresses. Bailey runs away from her brother, and runs past a house where a girl named Laurel is sewing on her front porch. Laurel tells Bailey that all of her dresses keep looking the same, and Bailey offers to help. Bailey tells Laurel about her idea for the window dress, and together they sew two dresses with mirrors all over them. Together, they dream of creating 10,000 dresses!

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Bailey feels when her family tells her to go away, and stop talking about dresses?
  • How would you feel if your family didn’t take something you loved seriously?
  • How do you think Bailey feels when she meets Laurel?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Draw a dream that you have had.  What do you think someone would say if you told them about the dream?  Were you doing something unexpected for your personality in the dream? Ex: digging for worms, dancing, being a knight and riding a horse.
  • Distribute a blank outline of a dress and encourage everyone to design their own dresses.  What would be on it?  Baseballs, Legos, flowers, anything at all!  Encourage everyone to think outside the box and design exactly what they would want to see on a dress.
  • Have a Classroom Clothes Swap.  Bring in some clothes that your family has outgrown and trade them around!  Maybe you could practice your sewing skills and make some creative clothing combinations with these swapped items; sew together an old tutu and a Spiderman shirt or make a double-sided brand new shirt with two things your love (flowers and trains, cookies and bugs, trucks and buildings).  Using iron-on sewing tape is a quick way to introduce children to clothing design and creation!  This can also be part of a longer life-skills unit, in which children learn cooking, sewing, and gardening.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

marcus ewertMarcus Ewert‘s written work has appeared in a number of anthologies and other publications including the 2004 Lambda Literary Award winning non-fiction anthology I Do/ I Don’t. He has participated in the ‘Litquake Literary Festival‘ and the ‘Porch Light’ reading series, both held in San Francisco. He has appeared in such literary journals as Shampoo, Suspect Thoughts, Star*line, and For Immediate Release. He was co-editor (with Mitchell Watkins) of Ruh Roh, an anthology of artists’ work that included pieces by Kathy Acker, Allen Ginsberg, Gregg Araki, Clive Barker, Sadie Benning, Dennis Cooper, Mike Diana, G.B. Jones, Paul McCarthy, Gus van Sant, and many others. His first book 10,000 Dresses, illustrated by Rex Ray, was published by Seven Stories Press in September 2008. 10,000 Dresses was recognized by the American Library Association on the 2009 Rainbow Book List, as a Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Honorbook, and a 2008 Lambda Literary Award Finalist.

rex rayRex Ray was an American artist best known for his innovative pop aesthetic in fine and commercial art—on canvases, wood panels, album covers, paper, book jackets, murals, and rock and roll posters. Born in Landstuhl, Germany in 1956, Michael Patterson was raised in Colorado Springs. Before moving to San Francisco in 1981, Patterson, inspired by Andy Warhol, adopted the moniker Rex Ray. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute where he studied with Sam Tchakalian, Kathy Acker, and Angela Davis, and received his BFA in 1989. He became a major force in the Bay Area’s art, literary, and activist communities. Ray’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Akron Art Museum; Berkeley Art Museum; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; MCA DENVER; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; San Jose Museum of Art; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Several books including Cut & Paste, Rex Ray: Art + Design, and Information feature images with writings about his career and artistic practice.

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