The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

I went into this book assuming that it was an lgbt book, but it’s not. Instead, it’s a book about differences…a book that questions traditional gender roles and points out stereotypes based on the readers thoughts alone upon reading the title. At least, this reader’s thoughts I should say. We equate boys wearing dresses as being gay, but this is not the case in this book. That’s a stereotype…boys who wear dresses must be feminine and if you’re a feminine male then you MUST be gay. I always say that this logic drives me mad, but here I am, drawing the same conclusions. Let me tell you what this book IS about.

This book is about a boy who likes to wear dresses. The boy in question is Dennis and he’s a delightful character! His mom left the family when he was a young boy and all he has left as a memory of her is a charred picture. He now lives with his brother and father and his favorite pasttime is football…and by football I mean soccer :p But he has another thing he loves too, fashion. Though he is not ashamed of his love for fashion, he keeps it hidden from others because he knows it’ll draw ridicule. But it all comes out when his father finds a Vogue magazine hidden under his mattress.

Dennis feels extremely alone and rejected until he meets Lisa, a girl two years his senior who he has a huge crush on. He comments to her one day on how beautiful her dress sketches are and before he knows it he’s in her room poring over Vogue magazines with her. And then he’s in a dress. A dress that Lisa designed that she thinks he’ll look wonderful in. And once he puts it on, he feels wonderful.

From here, the story takes flight, though I won’t tell you what else happens. I do think the ending was a bit over the top and not probably in reality, but that’s my ONLY complaint about this book! This book was wonderful. It might be the most direct book I’ve ever read at challenging gender checkboxes. Men can love fashion just as much as some women can. Women can dislike fashion just as much as some men can. But society tends to slap us on the wrist for thinking that way. And you’re automatically labeled “gay” if you don’t fit into those norms.

Oh, I need to add that Quentin Blake did all of the illustrations for this book which added an even bigger charm to it. Quentin Blake is the famous illustrator who illustrated most of Roald Dahl’s books. He did an amazing job at capturing the book and the characters. Definitely one to go onto the shelves.

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5 Responses

  1. So what age group is this book for? Middle grade? YA? Because of the Roald Dahl illustrations, it looks like a children’s book, and my first instinct is to try to find this one for Ambrose, who is very open about all the “girly” things he loves. It sounds like it would be a good book for him to read, if it’s not too old for him (he’s 9 this year).

    Sadly, my library does not have a copy…

  2. David Walliams is a huge star in the UK of course and, imo, one of the most interesting people on the TV. I had no idea he’d written this book so thanks for the heads up. As a race we’re guilty of incredible hypocrisy. It’s okay now for women to wear trousers, men’s shirts, or whatever, (I honestly can’t remember when I last wore a skirt). But see a man in a skirt or dress and people faint with shock. It’s so *wrong*. People should be able to put on whatever they fancy and not have assumptions made about their sexuality because of it. I will certainly be checking the library for this one.

  3. By football, you of course mean football and not silly game you lot play over there! ;P

  4. I was just about to ask if this is the British-actor-David-Walliams. Of course, he wears a lot of dresses for his various acting roles. He’s a hoot. Sounds like a really interesting book.

  5. This sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I don’t like over the top endings but hey, if it’s for younger readers, they’re all about the drama đŸ˜‰

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