Jacob’s New Dress is a touching, realistic tale of a little boy who is dealing with the fallout of being gender non-conforming. Written by parents of a “son who loves pink”, the story is educational without being didactic. Bright, playful illustrations animate a gentle description of conflict at school, which is resolved by caring parents and supportive friends.
Jacob loves to play dress up. His favorite costumes are a princess dress at school, a witch outfit at home, and other dresses of his own creation. When Jacob wears a towel wrapped around his regular clothes to school, what his mother calls “a dress-thing,” a classmate named Christopher rips it off. Crushed, Jacob asks his mother to make him a dress that he can wear to school every day. At first, his parents are uncomfortable with the idea, and Jacob gets a “can’t-breathe feeling” when he senses this disapproval. Jacob’s mother takes a deep breath, then sews him his very own purple dress, made just for him. Eventually, Jacob’s dad comes around and tells him “Well it’s not what I would wear, but you look great.” When he wears the dress to school, the boys say he has to be on the girls team, but “Jacob felt his dress surrounding him. Like armor. Soft, cottony, magic armor.”
The story tackles this difficult situation with a soft touch. Interestingly, although the couple who wrote the story are obviously seeking to work to get rid of the stigma associated with gender non-conforming children, they write under a pseudonym to protect the safety of their family.
Recommendation: Highly recommended for ages 4+
Reviewer: Jill Moffett