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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Prince & the Dressmaker by Jen Wang | Review & Blog Tour

Visit more stops on the Prince and the Dressmaker blog tour here!

The Prince & the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Graphic Novel, 288 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by First Second
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Jen Wang's The Prince and the Dressmaker came out last week, and to celebrate, FirstSecond Books has invited bloggers to share their favorite panel from the story, which I think is a fantastic way to approach a blog tour for a graphic novel. Before I get into my favorite panel, I want to briefly give you my thoughts on the story as a whole. So:

Oh, this is just lovely. Seriously, lovely. Right from the very beginning, I was charmed by the warmth of the characters, and the expression evoked in the art. Frances especially is drawn so expressive and open that you feel the story through her in a way that you don't often get in comics, but that I prize perhaps more than any other element of comics visuals -- not to knock all of the many talented artists working in comics at the moment, but it is so rare to find real emotion being conveyed on a character's face, and for that to stand on its own, sans words. And I love love love it when it happens. Seriously, instant-favorite status, it makes me so happy.

Beyond the expressiveness of the art, though, and how that instantly enamors me with a thing, this was just a solidly sweet, charming story. There's a fiercely loving, welcoming streak to it. I'm not sure how to phrase it other than that -- it just feels very inviting and... friendly? It's non-conformist, but not heavy-handed about it. It's sweet but not saccharine. It just strikes this perfect balance in tone and overall approach that I really enjoyed, and that I think will appeal to a lot of readers, young and old. And it goes beyond that. My initial comments on Goodreads when I finished it was that it was "unexpected" and in some ways, it really was. Beyond some moments that truly were just unexpected, there's surprising depth for what could be a fluffy, cutesy story, and a surety that really surprised me. All in all, it was an easy 5 stars for me, and I recommend it across the board!
(And I'm not the only one -- it's a sea of 5-star ratings on Goodreads.)

Now, on to my favorite panel. This was much harder than I would have anticipated. I basically spent the first quarter of the book screenshotting and bookmarking panels and telling myself, "This is my favorite; no, this is my favorite!" before I finally gave up and admitted to myself that I couldn't really pick A favorite.
(I've never been much of a 'favorite' person; I love too much and too broadly for such a concept as Only One.)

I coulda just done this:

and called it a day.

There were so many things I wanted to highlight.
But I kept coming back to this one scene, this one perfect snippet, that captured the joy and life of the style, and the character of Frances:

This scene really encapsulates so much of what I like about the book: the color palette, the characters, the scenery and the sense of pacing and sequence. All are just so well done, and worth highlighting.

But as I said, there are SO. MANY. I could have shared, that would have showcased the warmth and heart of this story -- but I didn't want to give away any of the surprises.
You really should pick it up for yourself. I'd love to know what some of your favorite panels are!

Also: FS made the cutest valentine's day cards to go along with the book, so from me to you: here are a couple of my favorites:

Jen Wang is a cartoonist and illustrator currently living in Los Angeles. Her works have appeared in the Adventure Time comics and LA Magazine. She recently illustrated Tom Angleberger's Fake Mustache. Her graphic novels Koko Be Good and In Real Life (with author Cory Doctorow) were published by First Second. jenwang.net


  1. Awww, love that page! I think it captures Frances' widening experiences and her joy in them perfectly.

    1. It just makes me smile every time I look at it. =D

  2. Shading books are a relic of times gone by. Children today aren't as excited by a fundamental shading book as youngsters an age back.prince coloring video

  3. You start to notice the fit of a jacket, the occasion the person is wearing a particular color, the boutonniere, etc. Suit Alterations Gold Coast


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