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Keith Negley (The Children's Book Podcast #483)

January 8, 2019



Keith Negley (@keithnegley) is the author/illustrator of MARY WEARS WHAT SHE WANTS. The story follows a young Mary Edwards Walker, determined to swap the confining, uncomfortable dress expected of her and other girls and women for a more sensible pair of pants. Keith shares that the idea grew from media coverage of transgender individuals being restricted access to bathrooms, as well as a podcast episode of The Memory Palace regarding the norm-defying life of Mary Walker. All in all it is a story of a woman who, even as a girl, enjoyed the opportunity to prove someone wrong by enacting change in her surroundings.




From the award-winning creator of My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys Have Feelings Too comes a charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants.


Once upon a time (but not that long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants.


Until one day, a young girl named Mary had an idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants!


This bold, original picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.






I read from an F&G during the interview and, consequently, an excerpt of what I read was removed before the book went to publication. The above spread originally read :


It was kind of a big deal.

And not everyone liked it.

"It's unnatural!" said the lady in the polka-dotted bonnet.

"I'm simply shocked!" said the man with the pinstriped hat.


All but the first line of this text was removed when the book went to publication, but the result now is a much cleaner spread that invites the reader to make his or her own interpretations of the crowd members' reactions to Mary.




Keith's work has appeared on book covers, children's books, t-shirts, album covers, posters, skateboard decks, and even a watch. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and New Yorker in addition to many other national publications. He received his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2000, and his MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2013 and doesn’t regret the student debt one bit. He’s won 4 medals from the Society of Illustrators, a medal from the Society of Illustrators West, and 2 medals from the 3x3 International Illustration annual. His book Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) received a Kate Greenaway Medal nomination in 2016. Keith resides in the mountains of Bellingham Washington with his wife and two boys surrounded by giant spiders and teaches illustration at Western Washington University.


Learn more about Keith at


And purchase any one of Keith Negley's books for you, your readers, a friend, or a library HERE.





*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will support the costs of maintaining the podcast, webcomic, and other materials associated with this site. 





Thank you, JENNY SUE, AMY, SARA, KATE, LISA, DARSHANA, MARIANNE, JARRETT, ANITRA, MIKE, LYNN, LINK, CORRINA, CYNTHIA, ELAINE, DOUG, JUDI, AMANDA, RUTH, LARA, TERESA, and others who are coming with me on this journey. You’re welcome to join us. Just visit and pick the support tier that’s right for you. All the hugs and high fives for all of the many, many ways all of out there listening support this show.


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