The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang. First Second, $16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-62672-363-4
A talented seamstress and a prince with a secret will win readers’ hearts in Wang’s utterly charming graphic novel, which is set in a playfully tweaked version of 19th-century Paris and highlights identity, acceptance, and fashion. After creating a scandalous dress for an attendee of Prince Sebastian’s 16th birthday party, Frances—an overlooked seamstress with big dreams—accepts a position as personal seamstress for a mystery client. She soon discovers that her employer is none other than Prince Sebastian, who wants her to create dazzling gowns for Lady Crystallia, Sebastian’s alter ego, who quickly becomes a fashion icon. Despite Frances’s connection with Sebastian, she worries that being part of the prince’s secret is limiting her dreams of finding success as a designer. The relationship between Frances and Sebastian—both as a conflicted prince and the glamorous Crystallia—glows; Frances understands that Sebastian and Crystallia are two halves of a brilliant whole. “It’s weird, I don’t feel like Prince Sebastian could lead a nation into battle, but Lady Crystallia could,” admits the prince, inspiring Frances to create an armor-themed dress for their next midnight escapade. Frances’s daring designs shine in Wang’s elegantly drafted and gorgeously colored illustrations, and the irreverently anachronistic approach to the setting provides a lovely and humorous counterbalance to the seriousness of the prince’s situation (“Prepare to get your lady groove on,” insists the burly, bearded king, who is eager for Sebastian to be betrothed). It’s all but certain to deliver grins, gasps, and some happy tears. Ages 12–up. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/11/2017
Release date: 02/13/2018
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-250-15985-4
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