Troublemakers in Trousers: Women and What They Wore to Get Things Done by Sarah Albee

Hello, Sarah Albee! It has been a while since we celebrated a book together! Thank you for returning to Watch. Connect. Read. to share Troublemakers in Trousers: Women and What They Wore to Get Things Done.

Sarah Albee: Hello, Mr. Schu! It’s great to be back with you. And I’m excited to show your readers the cover for my next middle-grade book, which is published by Charlesbridge and is due out next July (2022). Troublemakers in Trousers profiles 21 women from history who donned trousers, breeches, armor, knickerbockers, uniforms, bloomers, pantaloons, buckskin pants, three-piece suits, or other traditional male clothing in order to accomplish their goals, at times in history when doing so could get them in big trouble. Here it is!


Please tell us about Khutulun, Lakshmibai, and Harriet Tubman, the three women Kaja Kajfež features on the cover.

Sarah Albee: Khutulun is on the left. She was a Mongol warrior princess who became the undefeated wrestling champ of the thirteenth-century steppe tribes, throwing down one man after another.

Lakshmibai, the Rhani of Jansi, is in the middle. She was a warrior queen who fought in an uprising against the British, and who is today a hero in the history of India’s struggle for independence from British occupation.

Harriet Tubman is on the right. Her story is one that many readers may think they know, but her chapter goes into detail about her exploits first as a spy and then as a military commander of the Union Army—the first American woman to achieve that position.


I’d love to know about your research process while working on Troublemakers in Trousers.

Sarah Albee: I’ve long had a historical interest in fashion and what people wore—not so much because I’m a fan of haute couture, but because what people wore (or couldn’t wear) provides us with insight into the lives of everyday people.

My research for my archaeology book came in super-handy when writing about the women from ancient times.


Many of the women in Troublemakers were familiar to me, but I still learned a lot approaching their stories from the angle of what they wore. Some I knew much less about, and I relied upon many scholars and experts for help.

Here’s a quick research story: my sister lives in St. Petersburgh, Russia, and speaks fluent Russian. While I was researching Khutulun, she put me in touch with a scholar who specializes in thirteenth-century steppe cultures—he reads ancient Persian and other languages, and also speaks Russian, so we communicated through my sister, who acted as translator!


Please finish the following sentence staters:

Kaja Kajfež's illustrations manage to be beautiful, stylized, and delightful all at the same time, while also conveying a great deal of information about each woman’s personality, and the period in which she lived.

The twenty-one women featured in Troublemakers in Trousers defied convention and custom—and often the law—and assumed nontraditional roles in order to accomplish their goals--to see the world, excel at sports, escape enslavement, fight for their country, or pursue a career closed to women.


John Schu, you should have asked me what I’ve been reading lately. I was fortunate to get an advance copy of Kekla Magoon’s marvelous Revolution in Our Time, which is short-listed for the National Book Award and deserves every accolade. I’ve just begun reading Tracey Baptiste’s new book, African Icons, and it is brilliant, and is history that all kids should learn about. And then there’s Loree Griffin Burns’s book, You’re Invited to a Moth Ball. If you teach kids, have kids, or just know a kid, it’s perfect for encouraging them to get outside and explore their world.

Nonfiction for the win!


Thank you, Sarah!!


Look for Troublemakers in Trousers on July 5, 2022.

Charlesbridge's Description:

Girls and women have historically been denied access to work, been blocked from the arts, refused the opportunity to lead and fight, and much more, simply because of their gender. From Hatshepsut to Joan of Arc to Frida Kahlo, Troublemakers in Trousers highlights twenty-one women who, for different reasons, wore men’s clothing, pretended to be men, and broke the rules in order to do something they wanted—or needed—to do.

The perfect modern-day introduction to women throughout history who broke boundaries and pushed the limits set by society.

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