Felix’s New Skirt

The title summarises this ploddingly predictable picturebook; Felix has a new skirt and is keen, indeed doggedly determined, that his parents allow him to wear it to school. When his parents relent, the teasing and startled alarm of the young and old members of his school and neighbourhood community is depicted with little flair in text. The clunky text is perhaps a result of a poor translation from the original German and this adds to the overall sensation that this is a moral lesson being acted out for the benefit of the child inside and outside of the book.

The rather outdated abstract water-colour illustrations of Igor Kuprin do nothing to alleviate this impression. The book gives a rather mixed message, while on the one hand committed that characters and readers learn that what one wears is of little importance, the entire book is devoted solely to the matter. Felix speaks only of his skirt and the reader learns nothing of Felix’s other interests, family or school life except when it intersects with his sartorial yearning.

The picturebook is unlikely to interest the target audience of 3- to 5-year-olds, nor even the best intentioned of parents or teachers. Unquestionably a greater degree of diversity ought to exist in children’s literature, but not at such an effort that drains all from the book itself. This is a lesson many children could benefit from, but this book is not the one that can foster acceptance, sensitivity nor celebration of gender fluidity.