The Prince and the Dressmaker

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Prince and the Dressmaker Book Poster Image
Charming, cross-dressing prince breaks the fairy tale mold.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The author explains her artistic and story-writing process in the end with illustrations of materials she uses, preliminary sketches, a sample page from the script, etc.

Positive Messages

You can't hide who you are forever, and you won't be free to live a happy and fulfilled life if you hide who you really are. Don't let fear of what others will say stop you from being yourself, or force you to try to change yourself. Parents need to love and support their children as they are; if they're free to be true to themselves, they'll have their best chance at a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sebastian and Frances model strong, mutually supportive friendship; each doesn't judge and values the other for who they are and for their talents. Sebastian defies gender stereotypes, not only liking to wear women's clothes but also shy, bookish, not interested in traditionally masculine activities like hunting or playing polo. Crystallia (Sebastian's female persona) is confident, strong, bravely overcomes fears. Frances is a good role model for pursuing her own ambitions and career. She has strength of character to stand up for herself and leave Sebastian to pursue her own dreams openly.


A man who seems drunk makes unwanted advances on Crystallia, like suggesting sitting together in a bar and smelling perfume by leaning in too close. She then slaps him in the face hard enough to knock him to the floor.


One kiss, one almost kiss, and growing feelings of attraction and love illustrated.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Crystallia has a shot of something unknown, acts drunk, and passes out; she suffers a major consequence, but it's related to the plot and not physical. A drunk man makes unwanted advances. Minor characters smoke cigars in the background. Several illustrations show wine glasses at dinner parties or restaurants. A few scenes take place in taverns or bars. A minor character says she told someone to cut back on the absinthe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Prince and the Dressmaker is a graphic novel about a prince who likes to wear dresses. Sexual orientation is not an issue. Spoiler alert: He falls in love with a young woman. He simply likes the freedom and empowerment he feels when he goes out as Lady Crystallia. Explores themes about not living a lie and not being afraid to show the world who you really are. There's one kiss, and a few romantic feelings of attraction are illustrated. There's one slap on the face that knocks someone down. Several depictions of drinking, with wine glasses at dinner parties or social events. One character drinks a shot of something unknown, acts drunk, and passes out; consequences to do with the plot are major but no physical consequences are shown. Readers may be inspired by the author's illustrations and examples of her process in the back of the book, including some preliminary sketches, a sample script page, and an example of how the characters evolved from adults to teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKali S. October 23, 2018

Such a lovely story and beautiful images

My daughter actually read this at age 8 but it definitely addresses how we see ourselves and what makes us feel beautiful and seen. The illustrations and style... Continue reading
Adult Written bypotteryjars December 3, 2020

Promoting cross-dressing for kids

This graphic novel deals with sexual identity and despite its innocent-looking illustrations, it focuses on an acceptance of desires that nature itself can tell... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHaidyn Couts May 25, 2019

gender is a stupid illusion and this is amazing

the main story is about accepting those that have different idea or different life styles than you. and personally i believe that they’re are not enough book li... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDaisypotterbrown234 February 7, 2021

Love this book and is my fave!!!!!!!!

I loved this book so much I think it’s good for 11 or 12 and up not because it’s inappropriate just because I think they would get the themes better and enjoy i... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER, Prince Sebastian of Belgium is in Paris for the social season, where he discovers Frances, a young, talented seamstress and fashion designer laboring away in an obscure tailor shop. With the promise of decent pay and a chance to make her own designs, Sebastian convinces Frances to join his staff at the palace. There Frances discovers Sebastian's deepest secret: Sometimes he likes to wear women's clothes. Frances doesn't care what Sebastian wears, as long as she can keep designing and sewing. As her friendship with Sebastian deepens into something possibly more, Frances realizes she can't keep hiding her talent behind Sebastian's secret forever and decides to leave. Now, without his best friend at his side, or the freedom and empowerment that come from going out as Lady Crystallia, will Sebastian cave to royal pressure and finally marry a princess he doesn't love?

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about role models in The Prince and the Dressmaker. Are Frances and Sebastian good role models? What do you like about them? What about Lady Crystallia?

  • Which do you think is worse: dressing like a member of the opposite sex or keeping an important part of yourself a secret? Why? 

  • How do you like to express your creativity? What do you do that makes you feel free and powerful the way Sebastian does as Lady Crystallia? Do you paint, play a sport, write, or anything else? What would you like to try?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of age stories

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