A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Jen Wang
- Illustrator: Jen Wang
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Arts and Dance, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: February 13, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 08, 2018
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.