The Prince and the Dressmaker GN
Publisher: :01 First Second
Release Date: February 14, 2018
Price: $16.99 (TP) / $24.99 (HC)
Creator: Jen Wang
Format: 288 pgs., 6"x9", Full-Color, Trade Paperback/Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-6267-2363-4 (TP) / 978-1-2501-5985-4 (HC)
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

This is an outstanding work dealing with gender identity issues in a kind and caring way.  The prince in question has a secret… sometimes he really feels the need to dress as a woman, and wants to look as beautiful as possible when he does that.  So, he hires a dressmaker whose work has impressed him, and she becomes one of the few people who know his secret.

The obvious problem is that he’s a prince, a public figure.  The less-obvious one is that he is coming of age, and his family wants him to marry, but he is terrified of letting a potential bride know about his other life.  His female side’s flamboyant personality also makes it more difficult for him to hide his "secret identity."

The other half of the story is about the dressmaker, and her dreams and possible ways to achieve them, and this is also very well done.  Taking place at a point in time where selling merchandise was changing to more centralized points of sale, it is interesting to see how our own disruptions in the way things are sold is not unique, or even the first time it has happened.

Jen Wang has done an excellent job of portraying a character who is at least somewhat gender fluid, and the relationship between him and the dressmaker is a touching one.  The story’s resolution seemed a little too pat for the apparent time period of the story, but it was certainly an entertaining finish to an excellent story.

The book includes not only design sketches and the stages of creating the story, but a little information on how the artist creates her work, including what tools she uses.  This kind of thing helps give readers new to graphic novels an understanding of how the art is created, a nice extra.

Aimed at teens and adults.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.