I’ve always been a little wary of graphic novels because I didn’t like comics growing up and I’m not always a visual learner, so I read a few older graphic novels to prep myself for this one because I’d heard such great things and wanted to really get everything from The Prince and the Dressmaker. I started by reading Drama by Raina Telgemeir and really enjoyed it! Then I read Artemis Fowl as a graphic novel and didn’t love it as much. The panels had too much going on and didn’t focus enough on the characters. The Prince and the Dressmaker blew me away though. The illustrations, the attention to detail, the beauty of the drawings, and the story, I loved it all and I’m so glad I bought this instead of checking it out from the libraries and can see myself returning to it again and again
The Prince and the Dressmaker is set in Belgium at a non-descript time but focuses on Prince Sebastian who likes to wear dresses. He’s not necessarily transgender or even gay, he just likes dresses. So when he discovers an up and coming young designer named Frances, he employs her as his royal dressmaker. They’re friendship thrives as she dresses both Prince Sebastian and his alter-ego, Lady Crystalina, and an opportunity of a lifetime presents itself to Frances: to have her designs featured in a brand new department store. How can she turn it down? But how can she accept it without revealing Sebastian’s secret? And will Sebastian ever get the courage to be honest with his royal parents, who are trying to match him up with every princess they can find?
This story is really heartwarming and the illustrations are amazing. I don’t like comics and graphic novels as much as some people and I couldn’t put this book down. It’s BEAUTIFUL. Prince Sebastian and Frances are uniquely drawn and the attention to their emotions is exquisite. It’s about finding yourself, falling in love, being comfortable with your identity, and speaking up for yourself. The characters are teens but the author talks about how she originally thought of them as adults and adjusted to make the story about finding yourself more emotional. The ending is absolutely fabulous!! I won’t spoil it, but Sebastian finds someone, learns what his parents will tolerate from him, and the whole area gets a show-stopping performance.
Teens will love this book if they like books about royalty, excellent drawing, and coming to terms with your identity. Kids don’t have to be crossdressers to understand Sebastian’s fears over fitting in and hiding how he feels. They don’t have to be royal dressmakers to understand Frances’ love for dressmaking and her feelings about speaking up for herself and her designs. I’m not sure if they’re a direct curriculum tie-in, but this is excellent leisure reading.