Jacob’s New Dress (Sarah & Ian Hoffman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Jacob’s New Dress, written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and illustrated by Chris Case, the story of a boy and his parents making an important wardrobe decision.

When it’s dress-up time at Jacob’s school, he and his friend Emily always go straight for the dresses. His classmate Christopher is irritated, and demands to know why Jacob won’t wear any of the “boy costumes”. Later, Jacob tells his mother what happened and she is sympathetic, assuring him that boys ARE allowed to wear dresses. She happily helps him put on his Halloween dress, but when Jacob asks to wear it to school, she hesitates – dresses have been an at-home activity so far. But Jacob is determined, and he uses a towel to create a “dress-thing” to wear. His parents reluctantly allow it, and Jacob is delighted to show off his creation… until Christopher steals the outfit and mocks it. Jacob heads home crying, and asks his mother once more for a real dress; this time, she agrees. She and Jacob make a dress together, and while Jacob’s dad is concerned, he supports his son’s garment. And when Christopher inevitably teases him again, Jacob decides to ignore the bully’s taunts – his dress is his armor and his wings, and he’s happy to finally be comfortable in his own clothes.

Wonderful. Young bookworms are given a lesson in why little boys may like to wear “feminine” clothes, and that this is both allowed and okay; the given explanations of comfort and ever-changing attitudes towards clothing and gender are good starting points. Adult readers will identify with Jacob’s parents, who want their son to have the freedom to express himself but also worry about how the world will treat him – it’s beautifully nuanced and really hits home. The sunny illustrations keep things mostly light, and the length is just fine. JJ and I both enjoyed it – a wonderful lesson for both kids and parents about gender nonconformity, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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