Jacob's New Dress Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-08-31 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 24 user ratings

"This is a very user-friendly book dealing with what could be an awkward "hard-to-breathe" subject. Instead the accessible illustrations, the realistic family and school interactions, the matter-of-fact approach to a child's non-threatening play and dress choices all allow for open and matter-of-fact discussions among children and adults. The book doesn't advocate for anything more than tolerance, and it does that quite well. No magic answers, even when Jacob feels the "magic" of his dress to stand up to a bully, he is actually just channeling the strength of the adult acceptance he's experienced.
The way in which the emotions of Jacob and his parents is described and visualized are equally appropriate. The back matter clarifies the "gender non-conforming" category, especially for young children. I particularly enjoyed the "pink boy" descriptor as a parallel to the "Tomboy" label used for boy-choice-preferring girls.

There is much to celebrate in Jacob's personality, including his eventual self-advocacy, his imagination and creativity, and his actual skills- from language to sewing, to design.
" said.

"I got this book after meeting the author at a writing conference. I looked at the proof copy, and recognized how much of a unique and wonderful story this picture book tells.

Jacob finds a dress during play time, and wants to make his own. His mother helps him, and he is proud of the small stitches he did himself. But some other kid, a bully in class, keeps saying that boys don't wear dresses. He even teases him and says Jacob has to play with the girls. Jacob stands up to the bully at the end, using his words, and returns to playing with the people that care about him, his friends.

The adults are supportive in the story, pausing to reflect their answer. The challenges of being different than the norm are portrayed with the reactions of the other children. Jacob is neither discouraged or told he's wrong. He is marvelously supported for being interested in something that is different. This picture book really portrays how being different is ok, and listening to what others think shouldn't bother you. You can stand up to them and be who you are. This could be read again and again to little ones, or read-aloud in the classroom.
" said.

"Traditional gender roles and expectations seem to dictate that boys must wear pants or trousers, and girls must wear dresses. But as this cheerful picture book shows, sometimes boys just enjoy wearing dresses. Jacob loves playing dress up at school with his friend Emily. But their classmate Christopher calls him out for dressing as a girl and gives him a hard time. Jacob loves being the princess, and wearing dresses at home, and eventually, he persuades his mother to help him make a dress to wear to school. Even though Christopher continues to tease him, the dress makes Jacob feel safe and sheltered. I liked how his teacher tries to redirect Christopher and let Jacob be the person he wants to be, but I especially liked how supportive his parents try to be. Even though they know that his path might not be easy, both of them seem to give their child the space to become whatever he wants to be. The book depicts Jacob's fears by describing how hard it is for him to breathe when he asks those hard questions about his dress of his parents. Once again, issues of acceptance and identity are raised in a picture book, which might provide the perfect place to begin exploring some of these issues and concerns. An afterword discusses what is termed "pink boys," who are just like Jacob. Just as all princesses don't wear pink, all boys don't play football or roughhouse. Once again, readers are reminded that humans come in so many different shapes and sizes, and gender is explored in many different ways. " said.

"*I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jacob's New Dress is an amazingly open and progressive book for kids. The plot is simple and easy to follow so anyone reading this book can understand what it means to be gender variant. Not everyone fits into a specific gender category and author, Sarah Hoffman, wants you to know that that's okay.

So let me break down for you all of the aspects of the book that I loved:

1. There has been an influx lately of books catering to gender-neutral/agender/transgender/gender variant children and Jacob's New Dress is especially encouraging because it features a young boy named Jacob who breaks down gender barriers by daring to wear his new dress to school. I've never quite understood why girls who are tomboys are immediately accepted in society but when a boy shows signs of being particularly effeminate, he is more likely to be bullied or ostracized by his peers. Why? Why is that? This book is one example of how we can be tolerant and accepting of one another.

2. The illustrations are adorable. The bright drawings make the story ten times more engaging.

3. This book is both body-positive and inspiring. It doesn't matter what you look like on the outside. You can be anyone you want to be. You wanna be a doctor when you grow up? Go for it. Dinosaur? Awesome. Be a stegosaurus. Boy? Girl? Neither? Both? Go for it.

4. This book deals with the very real experiences that gender-variant kids like Jacob may face growing up. But just because you are different, does not mean that you are wrong or defective in any way. You are you. And being you is the best person that you can be.

So yes. Five stars for Jacob's New Dress by Sarah Hoffman. I loved it. Give it a chance, because I know you'll fall in love with the story too.
" said.

"Like any kid, Jacob loves to play dress up, being anything he wants to be. However, the kids at school have told him he can only wear "girl" clothes. Jacob loves dresses though and works hard to convince his parents to let him wear a new dress to school, one that is purple and awesome, but may bring with it more trouble than Jacob understands.

This is a tough and extremely intriguing subject for a picture book. Like other picture books that focus on "issues" and are meant to cater to a very specialized need, this book has its place, although I imagine there are a lot of people who would disagree with that opinion. I learned a new phrase with this book: "pink" boy, which basically is the male equivalent of a tomboy. Although I don't know if the term is accurate as I reject the idea that any color inherently belong to a particular gender, the concept makes sense. There are girls who are tomboyish and enjoy doing things that are traditionally enjoyed by boys, so there must be boys who enjoy things that are traditionally enjoyed by girls.

This story does not go into the morality of the issue. It is about Jacob and wanting to wear a dress and his family as they struggle with allowing him to or not. This is a huge decision as to not let him would wound him deeply yet to allow it would open up a whole host of issues, the most immediate being bullying.

I did think the story itself was a little glossy. The teachers, school, and other children's parents are relatively accepting about the issue. I know there are many communities and schools out there that simply would not allow it. Period. Have you seen the news lately about kids being sent home for their hairstyles and clothing choices? There are other kids out there like Jacob and this book is just the right fit for families dealing with this issue.

Review originally posted here
" said.

"At school, Jacob loves to dress up as the princess during play time. Christopher though doesn’t approve of Jacob wearing girl clothes even to pretend. Jacob’s teacher steps in and explains that you can imagine being anything you like. At home, Jacob tells his mother about what Christopher said and she says that he is welcome to get out the dress he wore for Halloween and play in that. Jacob loves the witch dress and wants to wear it to school, but Jacob’s mother doesn’t think that’s a good idea. So Jacob creates his own dress from a towel that he wears to school, but Christopher pulls it off at recess and teases Jacob about wearing it. Back at home, Jacob asks his mother to make him a real dress to wear. She is reluctant, but agrees, and then Jacob has a new dress that is all his own to wear whenever he wants.

The authors take the issue of gender variance head on in this picture book, keeping it firmly at a level that children will understand. The focus is on Jacob’s desire to wear a dress, not the complexities of what that may mean to label him in any way. That makes this a book that is about inclusiveness and bullying as well as addressing the need for children who have gender differences to see themselves in a book.

I also appreciate the way the authors included not just Jacob’s emotions about asking for a dress from his mother, but also her own complex reaction to it. While the entire exchange was positive and supportive, the pauses placed in the text spoke volumes about the emotions happening at the same time.

Case’s art is colorful and cute. The characters clearly show their emotions on their faces. The various dresses that Jacob wears are cleverly depicted. The lace on his final dress is clear but so are the dirty spots from playing in it.

An important book for libraries to have, this book will speak to children exploring their own gender roles and would make a great addition to diversity units. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
" said.

"Jacob's New Dress
by Sarah and Ian Hoffman; illustrated by Chris Case
Albert Whitman & Co., Chicago, 2014
ISBN 978-0-8075-6373-1
Picture book, fiction, gender identity
Description: 32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 1.7
Lexile measure: 400
4 out of 5 stars

According to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago (, "ncreasing numbers of gender non-conforming youth are being referred for care" and primary care specialists are referring them for care at younger ages that ever before. For teachers and librarians, this means that we must find ways to introduce the idea of gender non-conformity to children at the elementary school level.

Jacob's New Dress is written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, the parents of a gender non-conforming son. In the author's note at the back of the book they state that "Jacob's New Dress was born of our commitment to help parents, families, teachers, and physicians stand behind all the differently gendered little people in their lives."

Jacob is a young boy who loves to play dress-up, but when he wants to dress up as a princess, who encounters a boy who tells him that boys shouldn't wear girl clothes. Jacob's parents are okay when he wears dresses at home, but are reluctant to let him wear dresses to school. They realize that he is unhappy, and his mother helps him make a dress he can wear outside the house. His dad provides realistic support by stating, "Well, it's not what I would wear, but you look great."

Jacob gets made fun of when he wears his new dress to school, but he feels empowered by wearing a garment that he made and that expresses who he is inside, and he stands up to his bullies. This was the only part of the book that didn't feel genuine. I was disappointed that as he is being bullied, no other friends stand beside him and help defend him. I find it fairly unrealistic to believe that as the victim, he alone can stand up to a group of bullies.

Overall, the book is a good introduction to gender non-conformity for elementary age students. The teacher in the story delivers a good message -- "I think Jacob wears what he's comfortable in." Sometimes what people feel comfortable wearing does not conform to traditional dress in our society, but differences are not bad.
" said.

" This book did a great job of illustrating what it's like being a kid who does not conform two society's norm. I liked how you got both the Mom's and Dad's perspectives on their son wearing a dress. they had different viewpoints but they both accepted their son no matter what. " said.

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