The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author: Jen Wang
Illustrator: Jen Wang
Page Count: 659
Publisher: First Second
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Young adult, Graphic novel
Prince Sebastian is not as concerned as his parent’s are with finding him a suitable lady to marry. He’s more worried his parents (and all of Paris) will discover his secret: he likes to wear dresses. During a ball thrown by the King and Queen, Sebastian notices a remarkable dress that stands out from all the rest and demands to know who’s created such a beautiful gown. He finds her: a lowly seamstress named Frances. Together, the two make quite a pair—Frances creates daring dresses, and Sebastian, known as Lady Crystallia to the fashion world, wears them at night to the hottest locales. But can the two of them hide this secret from the world forever?
As you may or may not have guessed, Book Club 2.0 has failed just like the club before it. But something better has come along. I bought The Prince and the Dressmaker for my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. We each bought the other a book to read together all evening. Instead of reading our respective books, we ended up starting to read Prince and the Dressmaker together. And continued to read it together until the end. Two people can make up a book club, right?
This graphic novel is absolutely brilliant. I wish I could have read this kind of literature when I was growing up. I think it’s incredibly important to normalize a boy’s interest in dresses. And this book does so flawlessly. What I love most is that it doesn’t box Sebastian in to a stereotype. Many closed-minded people assume a boy who wears a dress is gay. But that isn’t always the case, and I don’t think that should matter at all. Whether a boy who wears a dress is gay or straight or bisexual, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that boy is choosing to be himself and love himself.
I love how this story plays out. The ending had my girlfriend and me hollering with delight. We took turns reading chapters to each other, even though we could both obviously see the pictures and text bubbles. It was more fun that way.
I highly suggest reading this book!! It’s emotional and hilarious, and truly an important story for all ages. I’m happy these types of stories are finally being told and are changing lives. This story may be set in 19th century Paris, but it feels like it could be set in any era, any country, for any person. And the art really makes the story come alive. It’s cute and cartoon-y, which absolutely fits the mood of the story. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, of course, as life never is, but it is a very heartwarming story.
The Prince and the Dressmaker is truly exceptional and unique. I never would have thought to read this book, but I’m happy I did so. And so is my girlfriend, who is not a fan of contemporary YA at all! So that really should tell you something.