Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker

Author: Jen Wang

Illustrator: Jen Wang

Published: February 13, 2018

Book Type: Graphic novel, library book.

Read: 5 April 2018 – 6 April 2018

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: By day, Sebastian is the prince of crown Belgium, living in Paris with his parents. He is expected to carry on his father’s legacy by marrying a princess and helping his kingdom succeed. By night, however, Sebastian is Lady Crystallia. He wears a wig, puts on high heels, and wears dresses as he explores the city as a stunning fashion icon.

Frances is an under-appreciated seamstress with incredible talent and potential. After she is let go from her job, she is hired by a mysterious client who wants her to make extravagant dresses.

This client, she soon discovers is Prince Sebastian. Despite the need for secrecy regarding Sebastian’s double life, the two become best friends. By having Lady Crystallia wear her dresses, Frances knows she will be discovered and one day be able to work as a high end fashion designer.

However, Sebastian’s secret slowly makes life more complicated. Soon, both Sebastian and Frances will need to make choices regarding who they are. Will it cost them their friendship?

Review:

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I’ve had my eye on this graphic novel for a while, and it was definitely worth the wait! Wang’s story is adorable, heartfelt, and wonderful with stunning art and strong themes of identity, friendship, and family.

The story is very direct. Wang does not waste time or pages with trying to justify Sebastian’s desire to wear dresses. He just does. I appreciated that this was presented as a fact. There was nothing “strange” or “unnatural” about it. Honestly, dresses are just pieces of clothing material. Just like pants, shirts, blouses, etc.

Wang’s art is amazing! The detail, expressions, and colors add even more life to the story. Every detail is so careful and thoughtful and it shows in the final product. The visual appeal is a 10/10, and since finishing the book a few hours ago, I’ve found myself just flipping through the pages to admire the art.

Right off the bat, one of my favorite scenes involves Emile (Sebastian’s butler of sorts) and Frances talking about Sebastian’s secret.

Frances asks Emile if he knows about the prince.

Emile replies, “I know everything about it prince. It is none of my business“.

The amount of respect Emile shows Sebastian was fantastic to see because, as we know – even today, men wearing women’s clothing causes rude, uncalled for, and horrific remarks from some people.

Frances and Sebastian made a wonderful pair, and I admired how Frances embraced her role as a dressmaker by deciding she would make the best gowns she could for Sebastian/Lady Crystallia. She does not judge him, but rather listens to him and accepts him for who he is – even when life becomes difficult and stressful. She does not ask him to change. When Sebastian’s secrets start to spill and people begin to speak poorly of him and degrade him, Frances does not hesitate to stand up for him and call people out. Sebastian encourages Frances and wants to see her succeed. He does not discourage her from her work, and likes to see her inspired and happy.

While some might argue that the ending of the story and the characters’ dialogues were unrealistic, I think the important part is that Wang portrayed something unique and special. She showed what acceptance can look like, and just how important it is for children/young adults to know they are accepted and wanted in their families for who they are.

Sebastian is a prince who likes to wear dresses, but that does not make him any less of a person or any less important. He is still worthy of love and acceptance, and Wang does a great job of showing this through Sebastian’s family and friends.

Frances is a strong female character who shows the importance of determination, loyalty, and hard work.

If you haven’t picked up The Prince and the Dressmaker,  I suggest you do. Wang’s delightful story and memorable characters will have you smiling from beginning to end.

Love, always,

Syl.

 

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