Book Spotlight: The Pants Project

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Posted: February 1, 2018

Category: Staff Picks

A pair of black pants standing in black shoes flanked by black skirts and white shoes, all atop the text "The Pants Project"Liv is a boy.  The problem is that his school believes he’s a girl and it has a strict dress code that requires girls to wear skirts.

Liv survives the first week, then has a brilliant idea during the second week:  the dress code requires skirts, but it doesn’t say anything about *not* wearing pants with them.  So Liv sneaks a pair of dress code-compliant pants in his school bag and puts them on underneath his skirt before classes start.

Unfortunately, Liv’s homeroom teacher doesn’t agree with Liv’s interpretation of the rules.  With no alternative other than being sent to the principal’s office, Liv agrees to change out of the pants.

When the students in Liv’s English class have to read papers introducing themselves to others, he mentions the fact that he has two moms.  A girl named Jade latches onto that fact and starts trying to make Liv’s life miserable.  To make things worse, Liv’s best friend Maisie thinks Liv is overreacting about the skirt issue and wants to be friends with Jade.

But things aren’t all bad.  Liv is assigned to sit next to Jacob in homeroom, and he seems like a pretty cool guy.  Jacob’s good at art and skateboarding, dislikes their homeroom teacher just as much as Liv does, and doesn’t care that Liv has two moms.

After his failed first effort, Liv decides to try another tactic to rid himself of skirts:  approaching the principal directly.  The principal previously ran a different school with no dress code, so Liv is confident he can convince him to remove the skirt rule.  After listening to Liv’s arguments, the principal comments that a dress code review might happen in a few years.  In response, Liv loses his temper and just barely removes himself from the room without getting into trouble.

After that second failure, Liv tries his final idea:  a petition.  He believes that if he can get half of the students at the school to sign a petition, the school administration will have no choice but to change or abandon the dress code.  As Liv discusses the plan with Jacob, he also finally tells Jacob the secret he’s been holding onto for so long:  Liv is a transgender boy.

Can Liv escape skirts at school?  Can he keep from hitting Jade for all her unkind remarks?  Will Liv ever share his secret with his moms?

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke is shelved upstairs in the juvenile fiction section of the Children’s Department.

If you enjoy The Pants Project you may also enjoy The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey.  Shane is the star pitcher of his school’s baseball team, has some good friends, and is starting to get close to a cute girl named Madeline.

But when Shane accidentally mentions his former school to a boy named Nico, things turn bad quickly.  Nico contacts his cousins at the other school, learns that Shane attended that school as a girl, and spreads the news.

Can Shane recover from this outing and have his classmates accept him for the boy he is?  The Other Boy is also shelved in the juvenile fiction section.

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