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Jacob's New Dress

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Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can't wear "girl" clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don't identify with traditional gender roles.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2014

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Sarah Hoffman

11 books13 followers

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5 stars
581 (42%)
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560 (40%)
3 stars
183 (13%)
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30 (2%)
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18 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 408 reviews
Profile Image for Kristine Asselin.
Author 38 books95 followers
February 25, 2014
Jacob doesn't understand why he can't wear a dress to school. "Boys don't wear dresses," one of the other boys tells him. But his mom, his teacher, and his friend Emily support his efforts to find the perfect dress to wear to school.

This book is a perfect book whether you know a "pink" boy (the male equivalent of a tom-boy) or not. My eleven year old daughter read it over my shoulder and wondered out loud why you *wouldn't* want to be different from everyone else. "Different is fun," she says.

I hope she's always that idealistic. We know different isn't always fun. But Jacob's New Dress shows kids that different is just fine.

Profile Image for Jeimy.
4,452 reviews33 followers
December 18, 2016
This book handles gender nonconformity beautifully. While the parents are OK with Jacob wearing dresses inside the house, they have issues with him expressing his feminine side in school. When confronted by a bully about why he's not wearing armor like a knight and instead is wearing a princess garb, his teacher tries to guide Jacob to more manly costumes. Jacob refuses and the teacher does not pressure. Later on, when Jacob's parents acquiesce, the teacher explain to the class that women didn't always wear pants and that there are tomboys, so why couldn't Jacob just be who he is. My favorite part about this book, however, is how it shows the anxiety Jacob is feeling.
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.6k reviews360 followers
September 28, 2017
It is Banned Books Week, and I am reading Challenged/Banned books. This is the fifth book for this week.

This book was banned/challenged in various libraries for various reasons (because heaven's forbid a boy wears a dress).

I did like the book, well ish. I just couldn't like Jacob. I mostly found him annoying, pushy, and only a bit brave. It was nice that he wanted to wear a dress, but it would also be nice if he listened to his parents. His parents are supportive, but they also want to help him out. They know that kids will be mean, and are just trying to protect Jacob.

Christopher was just a pest, just like his friends. I felt sorry that not much was done about the mean guys. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time that teachers don't do anything or just say it once and then expect kids to understand it.

I did like Emily. She was sweet, kind, and stuck to Jacob even when a lot of other kids didn't.

The art was so-so. The style was pretty decent (reminded me of Judy Moody), but while the humans looked OK, I was wondering what happened to the poor dog (???).

All in all, a pretty OK-ish book.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/
Profile Image for Amanda.
3,615 reviews30 followers
June 7, 2021
I find this confusing. I believe in loving and supporting your child for whomever they are.
I will not force my daughter to love pink or only play with "girl" toys, but neither if I had a boy would I encourage him to grow his hair long or dress in clothes of the opposite gender. I would never want to cause confusion.

No stars for this book. Just confusion.
Profile Image for Joan.
83 reviews
August 21, 2015
Excellent book about a boy who likes to wear dresses and what happens when he wears them to preschool. Includes a bully, a friend, a teacher with kind words, and parents trying to understand and help their gender non-conforming child. All in a small, well-illustrated picture book!!
Profile Image for Kelsey.
2,311 reviews55 followers
September 25, 2014
Age: Kindergarten-3rd grade
LGBTQ: Gender nonconforming

Although it has elements of bibliotherapy for adults, this picture book for pink boys (the male equivalent of a tomboy) is an essential addition to any collection for its head-on approach to a gender nonconforming boy. Jacob loves wearing dresses and receives support from a good friend, his parents, and his teacher. But there is one boy in class that just can't get over a boy wearing a dress, constantly challenging Jacob and teasing him.

The resolution does not end with the bully accepting Jacob's choices (which would have been unrealistic and saccharine), but with Jacob feeling confident in his own choices, with the help and reassurance of his parents, teacher, and friend. There are also moments in the book where the parents feel hesitant, providing another realistic dimension that shows parents of pink boys that even though you are uncertain about the consequences, you can make the right choice in the end by allowing your child to be self-expressive.
Profile Image for Erin.
1,684 reviews14 followers
October 12, 2020
This book is more for parents of children who want to wear clothes of another gender than they were born to or their classmates who don't understand them, than for the children who do the cross gender dressing in the first place. It's not a bad story. The adults are helpful and understanding. But it's not one I would use for storytimes. There are a lot better stories out there for transgender or gender nonconforming kiddos, though.
Profile Image for Amy Rae.
912 reviews40 followers
August 30, 2014
This one is pretty good. I love the idea, of course, and I think it's a wonderful thing to reiterate that there are lots of different ways to be a boy or a girl (or neither, for that matter, though non-binary possibilities aren't brought up). My preference, of course, would be for stories where gender-nonconforming children are normalized, but I suspect we have a ways to go before we reach that point. As it is, I can see this being a useful book on the way there.
Author 1 book9 followers
October 22, 2018
100% terrific.

It took long enough, but I finally found a good book that talks about this subject. It's really difficult to find. There are other more well-known books out there, like "Sparkle Boy" and "Princess Boy". They're not bad, but to me, "Jacob's New Dress" is what those books were trying to be, and not quite reaching.

There's a little boy named Jacob. He's in preschool, or kindergarten, somewhere around that age. At school, he goes to the dress-up corner with his friend Emily. They both dress up in dresses. Jacob gets the princess crown first and says he's going to be the princess. Another little boy named Christopher says, "Jacob, why do you always wear the girl clothes? Put on the knight armor. That's what the boy wears!" Emily responds, "Christopher, stop telling us what to do!" The teacher comes over, and Christopher complains about Jacob wearing "girl clothes," and the teacher says, "The dress-up corner is where we come to use our imaginations." Basically, you can be anything you want to be. Jacob comes home from school. His mom asks how school was, and Jacob is upset because Christopher was making fun of him wearing a dress. Jacob's mom suggests to him that he can get "the dress [he] wore on Halloween and play in that." So he does. He wants to wear it to school, but she says no, that's for dress-up at home. Since it's made of lace, it could get dirty at school. So he asks, 'Okay, well, can I get a regular dress I can wear to school?' She thinks about this, while he wanders around and pretends to be a bird and curls up in a nest and thinks about his school dress.

The next morning, he comes up with an idea. He takes a giant bath towel and wraps it around himself and ties it at the waist with some ribbon. His mother asks him what it is, and he says, "It's like a dress, but I can get it dirty... I made it!" His dad says, "You can't go to school like that." His mom tells him to put a shirt and some shorts on underneath it, and then they can go to school. At school, Christopher demands to know what it is. Jacob's mom says it's something new he invented. Emily says she wants one like it, and Jacob explains that it's not a dress, it's a "dress-thing", and smiles and tells Emily he can make her one. When they're all playing tag on the playground, Christopher runs up and yanks off the towel.

Jacob is sad after school, and his mother says, "I'm sorry. Christopher's not always a good friend." Jacob asks his mom, "Can you help me make a real dress?" The book says, "Mom didn't answer. The longer she didn't answer, the less Jacob could breathe." Finally, she says, "Let's get the sewing machine.... There are all sorts of ways to be a boy, right?" They make a dress. Jacob shows it to his father, who "studie[s] the dress," and "Jacob start[s] to get that can't-breathe feeling again," but his dad says, "I can see you worked hard on that dress. Are you sure you want to wear it to school?" Jacob says yes. His father smiles and says, "Well, it's not what I would wear, but you look great."

The next day, he and Emily are happy that they're both wearing purple and white dresses. At circle time, Jacob shows off his dress and says he and his mother made it together. The teacher asks if it was hard to do, but Christopher interrupts, wanting to know why Jacob wears dresses. The teacher says, "I think Jacob wears what he's comfortable in. Just like you do. Not very long ago little girls couldn't wear pants. Can you imagine that?" Christopher's ignores it, saying that his dad says that boys can't wear dresses. Jacob's a little bit nervous. Later, they're on the playground, about to play tag. Christopher says it's going to be boys versus girls, and "Jacob, you're on the girls' team!" Everybody laughs at him. But then it says, "Jacob felt his dress surrounding him. Like armor. Soft, cottony, magic armor." And on the last spread, he says, "Christopher, I made this dress, I'm proud of it, and I'm going to wear it! And you know what else? You're it!" And then he runs off, "His dress spreading out like wings."

That is such an awesome, empowering ending! It's so realistic, because if you have somebody bothering you about that kind of thing, they're not going to magically transform their minds. Maybe in the future, Christopher will come to terms with it. Maybe he won't. But the important thing is that Jacob understands that it's not Christopher's choice what he wears. It's up to Jacob. It's his body, and his clothes. He's proud of the dress that he and his mother made together. I love the fact that although the mother and the father support Jacob 100%, and never say anything against his choices, it shows that it takes them time to change to a new way of thinking. The only exception is reasonable, when Jacob's father says he can't go to school wearing just a bath towel. It's clear that it's non-trivial for the mother and father to make these decisions, and to a more nuanced reader, that they are weighing the possible consequences. They already know that Christopher is probably going to make fun of Jacob. And they know that Jacob might be hurt by that. But they decide that it's only with their complete support that Jacob will be able to walk his own path in life.

I don't think there's anything in this book that I dislike.

Message: Anybody can wear any clothes that they want. Things are not reserved for people by gender.

For more children's book reviews, see my website at http://www.drttmk.com.
Profile Image for Dee Dee G.
502 reviews7 followers
April 23, 2021
I read this with an open heart and mind. Good introduction about acceptance.
Profile Image for Meghan.
10 reviews
June 10, 2016
Though this book will rub some people the wrong way, it's about acceptance. Children need unconditional love and to express themselves in ways are sometimes uncomfortable for others. I appreciate that one boy at school doesn't accept Jacob, because that's life! While teaching our children to express themselves, they need to know that not everyone be accepting of their differences.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,087 reviews181 followers
October 16, 2019
Jacob is a young boy with a variety of interests and tastes, amongst which is a fondness for dresses. Despite the teasing of his classmate Christopher, he persists in his desire to be the princess at dress-up time, and asks his mother if he can have a dress to wear to school. After her initial resistance, Jacob's mother helps him make the desired garment, and he proudly wears it to school. When Christopher once again makes himself obnoxious, starting a game of tag between the girls and boys, and telling Jacob he should be on the girls' team, Jacob feels the protective power of his dress, and doesn't let it get him down...

One of a number of recent picture-books meant to offer encouragement and affirmation to gender-fluid children - another recent one would be James Howe's Big Bob, Little Bob - Jacob's New Dress highlights the message that there are all kinds of boys, some of whom will be attracted to the dress and interests that have traditionally been defined by society as feminine, and that that's OK. Co-authors Sarah and Ian Hoffman are the parents of a gender-fluid son themselves, something mentioned in the dust-jacket blurb about them, so I appreciated the way that their own life experience has informed the story they have to tell. I also appreciated the fact that they mention, in their afterword, that gender-fluidity isn't a sure sign of such things as sexual orientation or even eventual gender identity, and that they think young childhood is too early a time to really know those things about any person. That dovetails with my own thinking on the matter, and leaves the issue open, something I think is so important when dealing with the young, who need the safety and space to experiment, without those experiments being read by the adults around them as one thing or another.

Leaving that aside, the story here is fairly engaging, despite the obvious didactic purpose of the authors, and the artwork is colorful and appealing, in a somewhat cartoon-like way. Recommended to anyone looking for stories about gender-fluid children specifically, or about issues of tolerance and bullying in general.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,102 reviews80 followers
September 14, 2020
I hoped this would show the adults reacting better than they did, but it wasn't the worst reaction ever either. Maybe not one I would bother to reread because of that.

It gave me a chance to discuss how times / society / culture has changed and how things that should not be shocking to us might shock some of us old folks anyway. Right now I'm really looking to focus on positive messages though so this wasn't very helpful in that regard.
10 reviews
October 26, 2017
This is another book I really like, because it has a mix of reality and "fairy tell endings." When Jacob decides to wear his dress to school indstead of just wearing it at home he got mix reactions. His teacher was at first hesitant that he would be picked on it for it, but jacob was head strong and knew what he wanted and decided to do it anyways. When she saw that, she quickly became accepting of it, and made sure to reassure him that its okay to dress how he likes. However, not everyone was okay with it like his fellow classmate who bullied him for it. This is where the reality sets in, because not everyone will be accepting, but that shouldn't change how you portray yourself. In the end, although someone didn't agree with how he chose to be, he was not changing for anyone and living his life to the fullest.
Profile Image for Krista.
136 reviews3 followers
July 7, 2014
Charming story about a little boy who does not fit the traditional gender role stereotype with his love of wearing dresses. While his parents and teacher are supportive Jacob encounters a lack of tolerance from a boy at school. Even though Jacob experiences a “can’t breathe feeling” he finds the courage to stand up for himself and continues to play with his friends. Chris Case’s illustrations capture Jacob’s personality and emotions perfectly. Jacob’s Dress should be in every type of school, public or home library. Would also be a gentle way to introduce and discuss tolerance and bullying to younger children.
Profile Image for Michelle Gray.
1,930 reviews11 followers
May 2, 2014
I liked the overall concept of the story really well. I just thought sometimes it tried to hard. I think it put a lot of emphasis on what the parents thought as opposed to them trying to see it from Jacob's point of view. I know the parents are trying to protect him, but at the same time they kept trying to emphasize that boys can wear many things in order to make it okay for themselves as opposed to making it okay for Jacob. I liked the teacher's response better than the parents.
Profile Image for Kristen.
Author 1 book18 followers
May 14, 2014
A bit wordy for a book geared at kids this age, but an important book to have. Why can't Jacob wear a dress? I love that the teacher reminds kids that there was a time when girls couldn't wear pants. The message that we get to choose what we wear is fantastic. I also appreciate the realistic ending where Christoper (the boy who makes trouble for Jacob)isn't suddenly nicer, but just not paid that much attention to.
Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 4 books203 followers
July 2, 2014
Jacob loves to dress up as the princess during play time at school and is teased for it. Sensitive and reassuring but see Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress for a less didactic treatment of the same subject.
Profile Image for Michelle Brandstetter.
439 reviews1 follower
April 5, 2016
I think this is an excellent book for anyone to read! Jacob is strong in what he likes and feels comfortable with and even though his parents exhibit a little trepidation, they are supportive of their son and allow him to be himself.
Profile Image for Kris.
2,891 reviews69 followers
June 18, 2017
My five-year old son loved this book, and he keeps repeating the line, "There are all sorts of ways to be a boy!" I particularly liked the parents in this book, who hesitate, probably out of a protective instinct, but ultimately support their son. And I loved this kid's confidence.
Profile Image for Karissa Knauer.
25 reviews2 followers
March 10, 2022
"Jacob's New Dress" is a book about a boy named Jacob who loves to wear dresses and he always wants to be the princess during dress-up time. Throughout the story, his friend Christopher always makes fun of him for wearing "girls clothes", but Jacob's friend Emily tries to defend him when Christopher is mean. At first Jacob's mom is a little hesitant about him wear a dress to school, but by the end of the book she lets him wear a dress they made together, at school. Christopher steals his home-made dress and a few other boys are laugh and point at him, as they are making fun of him. Jacob's mom helps make him a new dress, and Jacob's dad is also accepting of Jacob's identity. Even though Christopher makes fun of Jacob at the end of the book, Jacob doesn't let it bother him and he is proud to wear his dress.

In the book, the illustrator uses placement and distance to convey the idea of conflict. This is because, Jacob is always placed far away from Christopher when Christopher is making fun of the way he dresses. Jacob is also placed close to the people who are accepting of him, which includes his friend Emily, as well as his teacher, mom, and dad. Many of these picture books also use the visual element of demand to convey the characters entering into a direct relationship with the reader. These characters look at the reader as if to say, "I am here, you must accept me". This can be seen at the end of the book when Jacob feels proud and confident in his dress and is no longer ashamed. He looks at the reader while comparing his dress to soft, cottony, magic armor. Jacob is show up-close in the foreground while the bullies, including Christopher, are shown in the background. This is because readers are generally more empathetic and understanding to characters that are up-close and personal, and the illustrator wanted the reader to be empathetic towards Jacob and what he was going through.

I love the illustrations as well as the amount of diversity in this book. There are characters from various cultures and of various ethnicities. I also liked how this wasn't the stereotypical book where everyone was accepting of Jacob's choice to wear dresses. By keeping Christopher as the bully and not-accepting of Jacob is more realistic, because sadly, in reality, not everyone is going to be accepting of LGBTQIA individuals. In the beginning of the story, Jacob is depicted as ashamed of wearing dresses because he is bullied because of it, but by the end of the book, he is proud of the dress he made with his mom and he is not ashamed or worried about what other people think of him, because he is finally able to be person he is most comfortable being. I think students of all ages should read this book to learn the importance of acceptance as well as acknowledging the fact that not everyone is going to accept you for who you are, and that's ok, because the only opinion that matters is your own.
March 20, 2023
I was worried how it would be portrayed as the book is already from 2014. But the authors (both parents of a gender-nonconforming child themselves) did a really good job to portrayed Jacob's journey to be his best self. So far he identifies as boy but loves wearing dresses. So it brings discussions with his parents, and his classmates. Some bullying him for it. And that's how I think this book is powerful, because in that moment his dress becomes his "soft, cottony, magic armor". This dress that he made with his mom, who took the time to listen to him and let got of her own biases, gave him the strength to face a bully by being himself. We can see in this book how having adults (the parents and the teacher) and peers (his friend Emily) supporting him give him happiness. It's really nice to witness it, and knowing the writers faced that with their kid makes this story even more powerful. In the end of the story (like for their son) we don't know yet how Jacob will grow up to be. But that's ok, because surrounded by caring and understanding people, he'll figure it out on his own terms.

I've read this book as part of the #TransRightsReadathon (20-27th march 2023).
Profile Image for Amanda.
935 reviews10 followers
October 7, 2019
I learned of this book from a podcast called Bleeped. They were discussing the banning of Drag Queen Storytime in Louisiana and I was of course outraged. The story that they read at Drag Queen Story Time was called Jacob's New Dress, and I figured it would be a good book for Oz to read. It was definitely a great book with easy to understand concepts. I also thought it was interesting of the author to voice the apprehension that some kids feel about approaching their parents with their gender nonconformity.

I definitely think Oz understood the central concept - let people enjoy things. I asked him if boys wear dresses before we started the story and he said no. I asked him again after the story and he said yes. Course I asked him if he wanted one and he said no. We are still working on pronouns (he consistently calls everyone he, regardless of identity), but I think we've done pretty good with navigating a world of strict gender roles.

Just know I won't be sewing any dresses anytime soon, I can't even sew buttons.
December 12, 2022
I would rate Jacob's New Dress, 5 out of 5 stars. The main character, Jacob, loves playing dress-up when he can be anything that he wants. However, many of his peers at school disagree that he can't dress up in "girl" clothes because he is a boy. Despite this challenge, with the support of Jacob's parents and his friend Emily, they assure him that it is perfectly okay to dress-up and wear "girl" clothes to school. Jacob's mom even helped him make a dress that he could wear. This book was banned because it was a tool of indoctrination to normalize transgender behavior. What I really like about this affirming story about gender nonconformity is the message it brings about that it is okay to be different! This book teaches children and parents that individuals can wear whatever they please that makes them feel happy and comfortable in. I would provide this book as an independent reading material in my classroom library for students to read for pleasure, but also use it as resource for a whole-class read-aloud for students to learn about gender identity and self-expression. It is important to me that I provide inclusive and diverse reading materials in my personal classroom library so I can have all my students feel represented, safe, and accepted in my classroom.
Profile Image for Erin Murray.
77 reviews2 followers
October 7, 2018
I thought this was a really good story about a little boy Jacob not wanting to conform to the generic gender stereotypes. The principle of the book is that Jacob wears dresses because he wants to, and that's quite simply it. There is a character in the story who is evidently against Jacob wearing dresses because 'dresses are for girls'. Throughout the entire book Jacob challenges this idea and I think succeeds. I also liked how open minded and accepting his parents were of his choices, very nice to read a book addressed for young children where and issue like this is raised in such a good way. This book would definitely encourage discussion in both KS1 and KS2 in my opinion. In addition, the book being read aloud in class would probably bring more comfort to those children in class who feel like Jacob but might be embarrassed to express themselves, how they want to. I also thought that the illustrations were very bright and colourful throughout the book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
21 reviews
March 3, 2021
Jacob’s New Dress, written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and illustrated by Chris Case is a 2014 realistic fiction children’s book. Published by Albert Whitman & Company, the story follows the titled character and his desire to dress up in clothes normalized for girls, though also stigmatized for boys. In what begins as an imaginative experiment during play-time in school, turns into a real-life attempt to wear the clothes he enjoys. Although he faces scrutiny from classmates and reluctance from his parents, Jacob confidently wears the clothes he is able to identify with. This is a very solid book that teachers young readers the antiquity behind gender norms. This is a recommended book for early readers in grades 1-3. It has a redeeming ending, and encourages kids to embrace what they like no matter what other people with dissenting viewpoints may have.
Profile Image for Meg.
5 reviews3 followers
November 3, 2021
One of the most common conversations I have seen in small children is the labeling of "boy things" and "girl things" in games children play, jobs that they want, toys that they play with, etc. Not only in the classroom, but even in marketing and media, there is a clear stereotype. For example, girls play with the dolls, kitchen sets, dress up, etc., and boys play with the trucks, race cars, action figures. One of the most exciting forms of imagination and make believe for kids is dressing up. Historically, dressing up is something that "girls do" not boys. However, that is NOT the case for Jacob. In Sarah and Ian Hoffman's children's book, Jacob's New Dress, the authors introduce readers to a child named Jacob who LOVES to dress up. One day, Jacob puts on a dress and other kids begin making fun of him, saying: "You can't wear girl clothes!" However, this does not stop Jacob from wanting to dress up and be who and anything he wants!

At one point in the story, he asks his mom if he can wear a dress to school. His mom is initially hesitant. She states that the dress is for dressing up at home. After she says no, Jacob asks if he can get a regular dress to wear. Jacob continues to try wearing a dress, and continues to face some conversations about not being able to do something because a dress is for "girls." Jacob continues to face challenges, from peers and even from his parents, but in the end, everyone supports Jacob and wants him to be happy.

Overall, the book is a great way to show kids that you can dress, play, and be whoever you want, wherever you want, and whenever you want. Jacob did not want to conform to the gender stereotypes and status quote, and he was lucky enough to have people in his life to support that. This book would be a great conversation starter to show kids that you do not have to fit the mold, it's good to step out of the box and be fully and completely YOU.
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,470 reviews99 followers
November 19, 2022
Delightful story, pictures, and message. Some boys like to wear dresses, and that's different, and it's fine. In the book, Jacob's classmate Christopher repeatedly insists that boys can't wear "girl clothes" because his dad said so. Jacob's mom describes Christopher as not a good friend sometimes. I would have gone with "narrowminded, shrill, and tiresome," but I guess a children's book should be charitable. Whatever, Christopher, you're complaining about a boy dressed as a princess while you're dressed as a dinosaur. If anybody is going too far out on a limb here, it's you.

Anyway, some real-life Christophers have tried to ban this book, which shows how badly needed it is: https://www.abookgeek.com/banned-book...
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