Fred Gets Dressed

Little, Brown. May 2021. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316200646.
PreS-Gr 1–In this delightful look at kids, clothes, and imagination, a white child named Fred starts out wearing nothing: “He romps through the house naked and wild and free.” Appealing illustrations capture the child’s carefree joy as he dances, jumps, and plays without a trace of self-consciousness. The naked playtime shifts, though, when he enters his parents’ bedroom. In the closet, he looks at his father’s clothes, but they don’t fit. On his mother’s side, however, he finds a blouse that fits like a dress on him, and shoes that are wobbly, but wearable. Then he decides to accessorize. The sequence of illustrations neatly supports the boy’s thought processes, with varied layouts that compare his evaluations of what each parent’s clothing has to offer. Fred’s choice of clothing is both practical (they fit better) and preferential (they seem more fun). When the climactic scene of his parents’ entry arrives, Fred has added jewelry and messily applied lipstick. Consecutive wordless spreads capture the moment perfectly: blank looks from the adults that quickly turn to smiles as the mother offers grooming techniques and even the dog is playfully adorned. The closing image shows that Fred is finally “mostly dressed” though bare from the waist down. Themes of acceptance, family love, and gender nonconformity resonate without overwhelming the simple story.
VERDICT A fun, funny, and insightful look at accepting kids just as they are.

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