Parents' Guide to

The Prince and the Dressmaker

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Charming, cross-dressing prince breaks the fairy tale mold.

The Prince and the Dressmaker Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 9+

Sweet story with lovely art

This is a sweet story that introduces that sexual orientation and gender expression are not the same thing. My 9-year-old loves graphic novels, and I read this before letting him tackle it. I found the story sweet and positive. My main criticism would be the role of alcohol in it as I feel this was unnecessary and could have been handled in another way.
1 person found this helpful.
age 18+

Very confusing messages

The drawings are beautiful and the plot intriguing, but I really did not like this story. It’s not just a boy who likes to wear dresses. It’s a prince who feels “transformed” when he goes out dressed as a princess, and the girl tells him, “You really were Lady Crystallia. It was you, but you were more. Bigger. More amazing”, “like a goddess version of yourself”. Is this how you encourage a friend to be true to himself? Sebastian is a prince, not a princess. How is it helpful to tell him that he is “more amazing” when he pretends to be someone he is not? I like that his parents, though speechless when they find out, love him very much and eventually want to show their support, but did the king really need to join Sebastian in his cross-dressing mania, and force his men to do the same? And why would the audience go wild? This is 19th-century Paris, not that long after they beheaded their own king: why would they cheer for the king of Belgium? It is easy in a graphic novel to make a boy look like a beautiful girl, win a beauty pageant, and become a trend-setter. It is easy to make the crowd react exactly as the boy would wish it to react. But is it helpful? This is not a story about a cross-dressing boy who would like to be accepted and loved despite his quirk. Of course he should be accepted and loved. But how are we to show love and acceptance. Apparently we should all cheer when men dress up as women, and if you think a prince in his mother’s dress is funny, and don’t feel sorry for him, you are a monster. That’s what the girl yells at three guys she caught laughing. And if you think the prince might be confused, you are wrong. The prince is ”not confused about himself”, the prince is “perfect,” says the girl. He was just afraid of what his father would think, and that’s what ruined him, she says. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with a prince who sometimes feels he’s a princess. What’s wrong is the king’s expectation that boys dress like boys and girls dress like girls. We should all give up this expectation and stop drawing clues from people’s appearance, even though men’s clothes have differed from women’s clothes throughout history and geography, even though sometimes that clue can make the difference between safety and danger, even though it’s such an important difference that many animal species make it immediately visible. And if a king struts around in make-up and high heels and a ridiculous dress that shows his chest hair, we should all applaud, and ladies should rush to buy that dress. At least that’s what happens in this story. I would not recommend this book to kids. Watching a boy dress as a girl and be fantastically successful in society, watching a girl fall in love with a boy who looks like a girl, watching bearded and mustachioed men walk around in frilly dresses among the cheers of the crowd creates confusion, and adolescence is already confusing enough.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (9 ):

Talented illustrator Jen Wang has written a lively, engaging, and mold-breaking take on the classic fairy tale with the poor girl who meets Prince Charming. In The Prince and the Dressmaker, we're given a prince with a difference and a poor girl with the strength of character to know that she doesn't deserve to live in another person's shadow. Wang's colorful and animated drawings move the story along well and effectively show lots of different moods and emotions as we're asked why what the prince wears matters and given lots of food for thought about hiding our true selves from our loved ones, and from the world at large.

Mature tweens and up who are thinking about how they present themselves to the world, what their talents are, and whether they're worthy of being loved and respected will enjoy this fascinating, fun, and sweet take on the story of a friendship that becomes much more.

Book Details

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