Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code

Little, Brown. Jul. 2021. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316461573.
Gr 4-6–Margie Kelly found the perfect skirt to start sixth grade. She and her BFF, Daniela, plan to try out for the Quiz Bowl team because they are “Queens of Quiz.” Unfortunately, per the school’s dress code, Margie’s skirt is an inch too short, and she’s sent to the nurse’s office to change her clothes. The mortification that began with her skirt being measured in front of her class continues in the nurse’s office. With her dad out of town, there’s no one to bring a change of clothes, so Margie is forced to wear baggy, oversize gym shorts all day; at tryouts, she and Daniela learn that the kids have nicknamed Margie “Dress Code.” The next day, Margie notices that a boy in her class is wearing shorts that violate the dress code. She waits for her teacher to call him out, but that never happens. As days pass, Margie notes that boys never get dress-coded and they seem to rule the school (including Quiz Bowl). She decides to organize a protest but is dismayed to find that Daniela is not on board. Margie worries about their friendship; her eyes are opened to her own white privilege as Black and brown students in her school suffer disproportionate punishment. Margie is bright, earnest, and appealing, and the issues of dress codes and friendship conflicts will be relatable for many middle school readers.
VERDICT While teachers in this book come off as stereotypically clueless, the book should have wide appeal as a thoughtful treatment of sexism and white privilege for tweens.

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