The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang's graphic novel The Prince and the Dressmaker immerses readers in an aristocratic "Paris, at the dawn of the modern age," full of dazzling high fashion and high-stakes romance.

Prince Sebastian has a secret. Sixteen and heir to the throne, Sebastian knows he must marry soon and take on the responsibilities of the monarchy. He also knows that "[i]f anybody found out the prince wore dresses, it would ruin the whole family," but he feels the most comfortable, the most himself, when he's wearing women's clothing. At a ball in his honor, he sees an extraordinary gown and immediately hires the creator--a young seamstress named Frances--to be his secret personal seamstress and designer.

And so, Frances begins covertly designing for Prince Sebastian. The more she works, the more she grows and develops her own style, while Prince Sebastian grows more confident and begins to step out in Frances's gowns under the pseudonym Lady Crystallia. Crystallia becomes a trendsetter with her avant-garde couture, which should mean big things for Frances. But Sebastian insists that Frances's connection to him be kept secret at all costs.

Jen Wang's (In Real Life) first solo endeavor for young readers is downright charming, depicting two teens finding themselves and their paths in a patriarchal and heteronormative world. Frances and Prince Sebastian's growing relationship is treated with great care, as are the problems each of them faces. Wang's illustrations are expressive and full of movement, the panels moving the story swiftly along as the characters break free from their borders and commandeer half and full pages for themselves. The Prince and the Dressmaker is a gentle, sweet-without-the-saccharine graphic novel for middle-grade readers that depicts the great happiness and love that can come with self-acceptance. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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