JACOB’S NEW DRESS
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Copyright Date: 2014
Audience: Ages 4-7
Timely and controversial, here’s a picture book that – with sensitivity and celebration – honors “pink boys.”
Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can't wear "girl" clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don't identify with traditional gender roles.
Recommended by the Rights Council:
Pride Week Guest Post from Sarah & Ian Hoffman: The Road We Travel
“Hopeful and affirming …” – Kirkus
“Jacob, why do you always wear the girl clothes?” a schoolmate asks the gender nonconforming hero in the classroom dress-up corner. It’s a question that Jacob’s parents struggle with, as well. When the boy asks his mother to help make a “real dress” after bullies tear off a togalike outfit he’s improvised from a bath towel, Mom takes a long time to answer. “The longer she didn’t answer, the less Jacob could breathe.” But Mom and Dad believe that “There are all sorts of ways to be a boy,” and they offer support that’s low-key, emotionally authentic, and unwavering (“Well, it’s not what I would wear, but you look great,” says Dad, who has to take his own long pause before answering). The Hoffmans, whose experience as parents inspired the story—have created an ideal companion for families and educators: upbeat yet realistic, astute about peer dynamics, and blessedly lacking in a sermonizing Big Moment.–PW
“A welcome addition to the recent uptick in picture books about gender nonconforming kids.” – The Bulletin
Jacob likes to play dress up with his friend Emily, but he prefers to pretend that he is a princess rather than a knight, firefighter, or policeman. The boys in his class tease him and wonder why he wears dresses. His teacher explains that “Jacob wears what he’s comfortable in. Just like you do. Not very long ago little girls couldn’t wear pants. Can you imagine that?” Jacob returns home from school to tell his mother that one of his classmates says that boys can’t wear dresses. His parents support him as he makes his own dress with his mother’s help, and she shares with him that “there are all sorts of ways to be a boy.” An author’s note explains how parents, educators, and counselors can make a difference in the lives of gender-nonconforming children. The warm cartoon illustrations convey the mood well and offer readers visual clues to the cruelty, teasing, and struggle with self-acceptance that can occur when children are different from their peers. Purchase this one to encourage discussions of gender, identity, and self-confidence.–SLJ
This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.