The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (2018)

princeAn uplifting graphic novel about celebrating yourself.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   228 (for ISBN 9781626723634)

Genre(s) and keywords: graphic novel, LGBTQIA+, historical fiction

Tone/Style: stylish, fairy-tale-esque

Pace: fast

Topics: gender roles, royalty, fashion, drag, secrets, marriage

Themes: being different, being oneself, friendship, responsibility, expectations

Summary: Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Readers who question or feel that they don’t fit in to societal norms. Those who appreciate skilled and expressive artwork. Readers looking for an encouraging story about finding yourself, even when others don’t accept you.

Who won’t like this book?: Some conservative readers may not like the subject matter. Other than that, unless the reader doesn’t like graphic novels, I’d give it to just about anyone.

Other comments: Sebastian’s sexual identity and gender identity aren’t specified, but he seems to be genderqueer or nonbinary.


Sequel(s): None

Readalikes: For more graphic novels that challenge traditional notions of gender, try Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill and The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag. There are two middle grade books about the transgender experience that I think capture some of the same spirit of this book: Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart and The Pants Project by Cat Clarke (though, note that Sebastian in this book is not speified as trans). For older readers (grades 8 and up), Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan is another joyful growing-up story full of gender and sexual identity diversity.

-Kylie Peters

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