Nice Little Girls (1974), a Delacorte Press publication written by Elizabeth Levy and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, explores the challenges of being a tomboy, particularly when boyish behaviors are paired with short hair, overalls, and sneakers that highlight how difficult reading gender can be.
When Jackie begins her first day at a new school her teacher, Mrs. James, introduces her as a boy, only to be loudly corrected by the boisterous girl. Of course, the class erupts in laughter at the expensive of both Jackie and her teacher. On the playground her new classmates continue to make fun of her gender expression telling her she’s really a boy, not a girl. Jackie is so upset she holds back tears while mulling over what it would mean to agree with them and just be a boy. This idea cheers Jackie up and she begins to march around the playground shouting “I’m a boy.” Although her peers first think she’s weird, they quickly follow her lead. Levy writes: “Jackie felt good for the first time that day.” Continue reading