Tag Archive: kids’ book

This one was a bit difficult for me to write for a lot of the same reasons that most of the other books aimed at a younger audience are difficult for me to review. It’s not a bad story by any means and I feel like a younger me could have benefited greatly from reading something like this. Thanks to the folks at First Second this is The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. Enjoy!The Prince and the Dressmaker cover

Lady Crystallia is the belle of the ball, the woman every girl wants to be. She’s beautiful and charming and everyone loves her. Lady Crystallia is a secret. Prince Sebastian should be trying to find a betrothed, it’s what his parents want. It’s what he should want. Mostly he just wants his secret to stay hidden so he can keep being Lady Crystallia and going out at night. Frances knows Sebastian’s secret, she makes all of Lady Crystallia’s dresses after all. She’s Sebastian’s secret weapon and Lady Crystallia’s biggest fan, but can she bear to stay secret when all of Paris loves her work and she can’t say anything about it?

Jen Wang’s The Princess and the Dressmaker is a very attractive book. The art is nicely expressive and the costuming is beautiful. It’s very much a coming of age story, a finding yourself story, and I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

Frances is, I think, the protagonist I identify with more. She has a dream she wants to follow, but her terrible job stifles it until she takes a risk and gets a lucky break. She gets to be the person seamstress for Sebastian the Crown Prince of Belgium. More than that she’s his secret weapon in living his truest life as Lady Crystallia, making his dresses and being allowed to create what she considers beautiful. But she can’t do anything with this creativity beyond making Sebastian’s dresses; she’s a secret keeping a secret. All she can do is watch as her fashions become popular without anyone knowing that they are hers. That leaves me perhaps more frustrated with Sebastian’s side of things than his character deserves.

This is, after all, a coming of age story and Sebastian is at most a teenager under a ton of stress from his parents and with a ton of fears about how people, especially his parents, would react. I feel like the story did a good job showing how badly the stress bothers Sebastian and how equally badly he handles it, but only occasionally. Mostly we see Lady Crystallia being the bell of the ball and Prince Sebastian being tired and disinterested in finding a betrothed. I feel like more could have been done with showing him trying to live up to being the kind of prince his parents want him to be. More could have also been done with Lady Crystallia as Sebastian’s sort of comfort zone, the person he becomes when he needs to be confident and comfortable. This is kind of a short book though, so there isn’t a ton of room for that.

Ultimately I am not the audience for The Prince and the Dressmaker, I think I am a little old for it and I’ve mostly found my footing. Coming of age stories are good and can be really enjoyable but this one wasn’t for me. The art was really nice and I would definitely read more of Jen Wang’s work in the future, so I’m giving this one a four out of five.


Scary School

Yet again, I’ve managed to be late with my review because of academic stuff and losing time to random friend things.  All in good fun, but still late.  On to the show!

Class is in session for Charles Nukid at Scary School where monsters run amok and being sent to detention could easily land you as lunch for a hungry T. Rex.

Derek the Ghost’s Scary School is an account of a year at the eponymous school, introducing the students and teachers and leading up to the much anticipated (and feared) Ghoul Games.  The book takes a chapter with each major character, focusing mostly on Charles but also spreading out so that each character including Derek himself gets some screen time.  This tends to make it feel more like a series of vaguely linked short stories rather than a novel.

I have to admit that while I enjoyed Scary School, I wasn’t a fan of how much it referenced itself.  While bringing something up and then referring to it coming up later does feel true to voice it gets annoying rather quickly when this is done in several chapters in a row.  I’m not terribly big on the insistence that certain things are or were scary but, yet again, it fits the voice.  I would definitely give Scary School to my little cousin when he learns to read on his own.

As far as rating Scary School goes, it’s enough away from what I usually read that I’m not entirely comfortable giving it a number rating.  It’s good enough that I’d want to share with the younger members of my family and it’s good enough that, aside from the annoyances I mentioned earlier, I don’t have any issues with it.  That said, I’m going to give Scary School a four out of five.