The Prince and the Dressmaker
Published by: First Second
Written by: Jen Wang
Illustrated by: Jen Wang
Format: Softcover, 288 pages, Color, $16.99
As someone who enjoys fairy tales (a lot) there are only certain times when I think: Wow, and I thought traditional fairy tales were entertaining!
Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker is one of the most thoughtful contemporary fairy tales to hit the 21st century young adult reading world in a while. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that it’s fairy a tale for the whole family to read and to talk about.
To begin, the two main characters have some serious secrets. While Frances cannot reveal that she is the Prince’s dressmaker, the Prince cannot reveal that he is wearing her dresses. In fact, Prince Sebastian is not only wearing the dresses, but also secretly sporting them as Paris’ new raging fashion icon “Lady Crystallia.” And to make matters worse the Prince’s parents are trying to find him a bride. Playing his role as Prince during the daytime and Lady Crystallia at nighttime, the Prince is set on a collision course with himself.
Will he be the Prince his family wants him to be?
Will he be the Prince Frances needs him to be in order to gain her dresses some much-deserved attention?
Or, will the Prince be true to himself?
Elements of Story
Plot: Frances is an unknown seamstress working in Paris at the dawn of the modern age. When she is discovered by Prince Sabastian he immediately hires her to sew him dresses. With Frances’ help, he ignores his father’s expectations of him as Prince and goes out at night dressed as a woman named “Lady Crystallia.” Working together France promises to keep his secret, but will her promise get in the way of her potential as a dressmaker?
Major Characters: Lady Sophia Rohan, Frances, Emile, the Prince Sabastian (also, Lady Crystallia), King Leo, Queen, Princess Juliana, Prince Marcel, Peter, Madame Aurelia, Princess Louise,
Major Settings: Paris, Beauty Pageant, Trippley’s, the Royal Home, Spa Town, Remote Monastery
Themes: Identity, Family, Normative Culture, Artistry and Self-expression, Truth and Honesty
Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the
Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults
Common Core Standard(s)
Craft and Structure
Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
Directions for Lesson Plan
Analyzing the author and the illustrators’ choices are critical to reading The Prince and the Dressmaker. For that reason, the below graphic organizer asks readers to predict throughout their reading experience.
Using two dice, and working in pairs, readers can follow these steps:
STEP 1: Read the words and the images on the front and the back cover and write down what you think this graphic novel will be about in the space below (at least 4 sentences, 4 images, or 2 sentences and 2 images).
STEP 2: Reader #1 rolls two dice. Adding the two numbers together from the dice Reader # 1 and Reader # 2 must collectively decide what they think will happen in __(# added up by two dice)__ pages in the story.
Thinking about how many pages they must predict ahead, Readers # 1 and # 2 use words, images, and / or a combination of words and images to predict what they think will be happening that many pages ahead in the story. Both readers can record their responses in the space below.
STEP 3: Reader # 2 rolls two dice. Adding the two numbers together from the dice Reader # 2 and Reader # 1 decide what they think will happen in __(# added up by two dice)__ pages in the story and record their ideas using words, images, and / or a combination of words and images below.
STEP 4: Readers keep going back and forth rolling the dice, adding up the numbers, and writing/drawing their predictions until they finish the story.
Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.