Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Graphic Novel
Published: February 13, 2018
Rating: 5/5 stars
CW: minor bullying regarding gender norms
In a regal setting inspired by Paris, Prince Sebastian is waiting for the king and queen to find him a suitable wife. However, the prince is less enthused about marriage and would rather twirl around in beautiful dresses made by his best friend Frances. At night, Frances and Sebastian sneak out and take the fashion world by storm. But Sebastian's princely duties are starting to catch up with him, and he begins to wonder if he can be both a ruler, and a beautiful fashion icon at the same time.
This book was an absolute delight. I saw it in a bookstore when I was on vacation back in the summer, and I just knew it would be one that I would need the physical copy of. The pictures were whimsical and fun, and the story was heartwarming and refreshing. I would recommend this book to tweens, teens and even adults looking for something easy to read.
Jen Wang went above and beyond creating beautiful artwork in a gorgeous colour palette. The book is made up of pastel artwork that perfectly captures the whimsy nature of the book. I loved the use of soft pinks throughout the panels, and I couldn't help but focus in on the pictures even when my mind naturally goes to the words in a graphic novel. Wang made the pictures so soft and sweet.
The story is full of fluff and fashion, though without being dull. Wang is still able to build action and tension within the text, but not in a way that automatically defaults to trauma. Yes, Sebastian does endure some stigma due to his like for wearing dresses. But the book ends on such a happy and hopeful note, and just when you think this is going to be a sad tale, the ending turns out to be so positive. Not to mention that the final few panels are just really fun as well.
I have to say that I really liked that Wang doesn't really label Sebastian's gender or sexuality throughout the text. I think it's easy to stereotype boys wearing dresses, and saying that they are gay. Or that masc-presenting people who wear dresses must not be cisgender. But Wang just lets Sebastian be Sebastian, without the labels. He has a wholesome, adorable relationship with his best friend Frances, who was also a well-rounded character you can't help but root for. I appreciated the side plots that involved fashion within the story, as seeing Frances have a passionate career in the industry was really cool to see.
Overall, this book was easy to get through, light and fluffy, and a great example of how to show positive representation of challenging gender norms without resorting to trauma. I think this book would be perfect for tweens wanting to get into reading graphic novels, and the message can't be beat.
Have you read The Prince and the Dressmaker? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess