cover image Jacob’s New Dress

Jacob’s New Dress

Sarah Hoffman and Ian Hoffman, illus. by Chris Chase. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-6373-1

“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, and Case (Sophie and the Next-Door Monsters)—who contributes thoughtful, down-to-earth cartoons of home and school—have created an ideal companion for families and educators: upbeat yet realistic, astute about peer dynamics, and blessedly lacking in a sermonizing Big Moment. Ages 4–7. Illustrator’s agent: the Herman Agency. (Mar.)