The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

Title: The Pants Project
Author: Cat Clarke
Publication date: 2017

Date started: 13/03/2019
Date finished: 13/03/2019

First sentence: “AHAHAHAHAHA! You look ridiculous!”
Last sentence: “I smile and do my best to look mysterious and suitably superhero-y. ‘Now that would be telling.'”
Favorite sentences: “We were the perfect poster students for Bankridge Middle School. Except for one, tiny, insignificant detail. I wore a pair of brand-new black pants. So did Marion. Jacob, Alex, Sav, and Miguel wore skirts.”

Summary (spoilers): Liv is dreading her first day of middle school because she has to wear a uniform, which includes a mandatory skirt for girls. Except Liv’s not a girl. He doesn’t feel like he can tell that he’s trans to anyone – not to his two moms or his brother or his best friend, Maisie. But if he can’t present as a boy, maybe he can at least try to change the school’s rule about uniforms and mandatory skirts. He soon finds out that middle school is ruthless, as he starts getting bullied for not being feminine enough and having two moms, and Maisie drops him to join the popular girls. He finds an unlikely ally in Jake, the most popular boy in class. Together they fight against the uniform policy, and eventually Liv confides to him that he’s trans – which Jake takes really well. After trying to appeal directly to the director without success, they decide to switch uniforms with a group of friends, and the boys wearing skirts attract attention enough that the director says he will consider changing the rules! Liv is hiding the parent night from his moms because he doesn’t want them to realize that he’s getting bullied but eventually cracks and tell them, and one of his mom has a long conversation with his main bully who ends up apologizing to Liv. Jake also admits that he has a secret of his own: he has a condition that makes him hurt himself easily and he needs a cane to walk, but is too ashamed to take it to school. Together, they give each other strength to be themselves in public: Jake starts using his cane and Liv decides to come out to his moms, who accept him and tell him they’ve always thought it might be the case but were waiting for him to say it himself.

Opinion: This was a nice children’s book! Once again, I’m really grateful that my local library had this book because LGBTQ+ children book are essential. This one was really entertaining, fun, with some dramatic moments but Liv always had strong allies, it was quite heartwarming. Unlike in George, because the novel is written in the 1st person and that Liv isn’t out to anybody, feminine pronouns are used for him throughout the book, but somehow with the way it was written it was very easy to see him as a boy. The whole “Pants Project” secret mission that the kids organize to protest their school’s uniform policy is very obvious from the beginning, but then again this is a children’s book so maybe it’s not that obvious for the age target.

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