Mary Walker Wears the Pants

Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero by Cheryl Harness and illustrated by Carlo Molinari is an excellent example of a picture book biography that introduces children (and many adults) to figures who haven’t been typically highlighted in history textbooks.


Some people are simply way ahead of their times, and Mary Walker definitely fits the bill. She was one of the first women to become a doctor in the United States and she wore pants when most women wore corsets and long dresses. If Mary Walker were alive today, being a female doctor and wearing pants would be nothing remarkable. Back in the 1860s, however, Mary was a lightning rod for ridicule and disdain from many people. Regardless of what others thought, that didn’t stop her from serving as a physician during the Civil War and even earning a Medal of Honor.

Reading Mary Walker Wears the Pants made me wonder, who are the Mary Walkers of our times? Perhaps some of the young people who read this book will recognize a little bit of themselves and be inspired to continue on their unique paths. We can only hope!

This book is a perfect selection for Women’s History Month. See more fine examples at Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0807549908
ISBN-13: 978-0807549902

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Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the new Nonfiction Monday blog.

2 Replies to “Mary Walker Wears the Pants”

  1. I had to stop by and say that this book is on “Cyber Monday” sale on Amazon. So how lucky that I read your review and immediately headed over the store to download an e-version 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

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