I’m not reading a lot of print books right now, but I’m glad I made time for this cute tale. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is a graphic novel for all ages with charming artwork and a message about being yourself and accepting others for who they are.
The two title characters are good friends Sebastian and Frances. By day, Sebastian is a prince whose parents are trying to make a royal match for him; by night, he is Lady Crystallia, and Frances is the dressmaker who makes Crystallia’s fashion dreams come to life with her creations. But Sebastian is continually worried that his secret will get out, and Frances starts to worry that she will never be able to reach her full potential.
Of course, they do manage to find their way through their troubles together, leading to an entertaining happy ending.
The writing and art go well together, whether it’s a scene of heartfelt and endearing simplicity…
…or a scene bursting with Parisian fashion and glamour.
Although I’m not an expert on LGBT literature, I thought Sebastian’s cross-dressing/genderfluidity was handled well. Rather than discussing labels or gender pronouns as a contemporary story might do, it comes at it from a more organic perspective, letting Sebastian and the other characters tell their own truths with plain and honest language. Sebastian explains:
“Some days I look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘That’s me, Prince Sebastian! I wear boy clothes and look like my father.’ Other days it doesn’t feel right at all. Those days I feel like I’m actually a princess.”
I would definitely recommend checking out this charming story. I have a feeling it will be one of the most popular graphic novels this year.