Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Boy in the Dress” as Want to Read:
The Boy in the Dress
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Boy in the Dress

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  11,302 ratings  ·  980 reviews
The sparkling debut children's novel from David Walliams, co-creator and co-star of the multi-award-winning Little Britain. Dennis was different. Why was he different, you ask? Well, a small clue might be in the title of this book! Charming, surprising and hilarious—The Boy in the Dress is everything you would expect from the co-creator of Little Britain. David Walliams's ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by HarperCollins Children's Books (first published 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Boy in the Dress, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Hania Because people back then (and still do) had stereotypes of gender: boy were pants and shirts and play sports, while girls wear skirts and dresses and …moreBecause people back then (and still do) had stereotypes of gender: boy were pants and shirts and play sports, while girls wear skirts and dresses and do “girly” things. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,302 ratings  ·  980 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Boy in the Dress
Michael Finocchiaro
The first wonderful Walliams book is about a boy named Dennis who meets Lisa and lives out his fantasy of wearing a dress. This creates a few complications, but as in all of Walliams' work, open mindedness and love wins the day! A wonderful tale of tolerance in today's increasingly intolerant world. Fantastic for kids!!!
Petra X $200 for an exhaust leak! Daylight robbery
Dressing up to look like a girl and trying to pass in school is probably not a good idea. Teasing, bullying, major embarrassment are inevitable. What brings people together and motivates males especially is sport and (view spoiler) if they can see victory is within their grasp, well then, anything becomes possible. Including a whole team of boys in tutus.

The book is wonderful on every level, it's a real 5 star read and will move you to
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dennis lives in an ordinary town, in an ordinary house, on an ordinary street. But Dennis, as we will come to discover, is a not so ordinary boy.

Bravo Mr. Walliams. Never have I read a children's book about a boy who shows an interest in wearing girl's clothing. I think it shows a lot of gumption to talk about these issues and I am happy that they're now starting at a younger level.

I know a lot of reviews speak about Dennis being a cross dresser but I love how Mr. Walliams tackles what I think
Roberto Carrasco
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lovely short novel about being different (or is it about being a gay kid?). Anyway, you will love it. I read it in English because the spanish edition had a confusing and (in my opinion) homophobic title: "El Mago del Balón" (something like "The Magician of the Ball") clearly selling this book to a male audience and avoiding any reference to the main fact of the story: cross-dressing. I wonder how many Spanish boys who love soccer are now reading "El Mago del Balón" and thinking that cross-dress ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, children-s
Heartwarming and inclusive.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrns
I read this with my class of 8 -9 year olds and they absolutely loved it. There were a few bits that I thought were a bit ‘rude’ for them so had to hastily edit on the hop. David Williams is like the new (ish) Roahl Dahl - he just completely ‘gets’ what children will find funny.
Ayala Levinger
Aug 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
well, no no no. I thought it was a story like George by Alex Gino. while George was transgender, Dennis is a boy that likes dresses because they reminds him of his mom that abandoned the family. That is also a strange detail. he has only good memories of his mom and one day she was gone, left her husband and abandoned 2 young kids? Anyway, Dennis meets Lisa and they share their interest in fashion. Dennis says it wasn't fair that boys clothes are boring and Lisa suggests he wears a dress she ma ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
I'm not sure why its taken me so long to read a David walliams book.
I love his humour and will definitely be reading alot more of his now.
On a trip to England, I saw this book prominently displayed along with Walliam's other books. I've never heard of that author before, but I was instantly hit with nostalgia, because when I was a young girl living in England, I LOVED Roald Dahl's books, and, at a first glance, Walliam's books reminded me of those (especially this book, having been illustrated by Quentin Blake).

I was also very intrigued by the premise... a book about cross-dressing for a middle-grade audience? I was very curious
Liam Mernagh
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
‘The Boy in the Dress’ is a children’s book by David Walliams which details the adventures of twelve year old Dennis whose past times include cross-dressing and the reactions of his family and friends to this. When Dennis’ parents split up, he’s devastated and when forced to live with his father, the only comfort he finds is his mother’s left behind clothes. This sets off a series of comical transgender themes that allows the reader to light-heartedly enjoy his embarrassing explorations into the ...more
Chris Mills
I’ve read mixed reviews of David Walliams as an author so I thought I’d read one of his books and decide for myself. Although mildly sceptical before reading the book, mainly due to not really being a fan of Little Britain and his comedy television, I think (I’m not totally convinced yet) I quite liked The Boy in the Dress.

The story is about a twelve-year-old boy called Dennis, who lives with his father and his older brother. After his Mother leaves, Dennis develops a fascination with a dress t
Clare O'Beara
I enjoyed this book which engages our sympathy for a lad whose mother has left home. His dad, a long distance truck driver in Britain, is gruff and tired and doesn't want any reminders of the two lads' mother in the house. The older boy is compliant but the younger just tries not to cry. He has one photo of his mum in a pretty dress, and this leads to him looking at Vogue magazine, an odd choice for a twelve year old as his friends would say. The football team considers him their star, along wit ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, kids-books
Misogyny, homophobia, fatshaming throughout the book.
The gender roles of clothes change slightly throughout the book, but not as much as it seems. Honestly, there are better books, and I would not recomment it to anyone.

There is just too much bad stuff to weigh up for the small good stuff.
The friendships in the book are good, it's the best thing about the book.
But it's like finding a marble in a sea of dogturds- simply not worth it.

Kate Lee
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
it was such a FUNNY book! i loved the character denis! and i also loved raaj! and the descriptions of lisa was BRILLIANT i could see her in my head ! i love this book and i think- i know that David Williams is AWESOME! Cant wait to read his other books :D
Dec 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 5th grade and up
The boring and lonely life of 12-year-old Dennis, who still mourns his mom's leaving and his dad's depression, is lightened only by soccer playing and (a more recent discovery) a love of women's fashion. His dad forbids his reading of Vogue magazine, but new friend Lisa pushes him to play dress-up, and that is how Dennis ends up at school as "Denise," Lisa's French exchange student, in high heels, makeup, and a sequin dress. That is, until a passing soccer ball can't be resisted and his cover is ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Second in a Walliams trio I'm reading this year.

This one was worse than The Billionaire Boy. Badly written - "he said, mutely" Really? The characters in this book and those in Billionaire Boy are interchangeable. So is the plot to a certain extent. More or less the same father, shopkeeper, headmaster, teacher, boy, love interest, "ethnic" friend etc. There's a boring pattern emerging. Very basic and silly. For the first half of the book I almost had brain freeze, the writing was so dull.

As for
Such a beautifully written, intelligent and compassionate book. Very tender and kind...a touching story.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was one really good lesson!

Well done, Mr Walliams :)
Lucy Young
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The young boy Dennis who is the main character of the book comes from a single parent home (father is present) and he deeply misses his mother. Dennis is very talented at football which he plays with his best friend Darvesh, Dennis also enjoys watching “women’s” daytime TV, in particular Trisha and Loose Women. Throughout the book there are typical everyday experiences which happen to Dennis including detentions, trips to the shops and playing football.

Dennis then meets a young girl Lisa in det
Sep 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-aloud
This is a great book to read to your kids or have your kids read if: 1. you want to abandon your kids and help prepare them for it (the mom leaves in the the first page and the rest of the book the boy struggles with her abandonment); 2. you want to explain pornography to your young kids (it discusses the dad looking at it); 3. you suspect one of your kids is a closeted cross-dresser and you want to send the message that it is okay (which I would be supportive of but I was just surprised by the ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's very important to teach kids that different is okay, even great. The Boy in the Dress does just that. The reviews says that it is a charming, comic tale. It is that, but it's also about a boy's loneliness after his mother's departure, his sadness, his desire to get out of the ordinary life in his ordinary home in his ordinary town.

Quentin Blake's drawings and the very Dahlian flow of the story makes this a must-read, for both children and adults.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this as a child and decided to re-read 'The boy in the dress' in my late teens and I still love this feel-good, witty yet important, message giving children's book. It allows children and adults to feel comfortable in whatever they like doing or how they look, even if that involves them looking a bit different from everyone else. ...more
Cori Reed
Love the premise, hate the execution.
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Dennis’s life is rather lonely. His mother left two years ago when he was ten, and his father drives long distances as a truck driver. He and his brother don’t get along very well. He enjoys soccer, and is the star of his school’s team, and discovers from looking at a Vogue magazine that he also enjoys women’s fashion. When a chance meeting with his crush (the older, popular, and aspiring fashion designer Lisa) results in a friendship, Lisa convinces him to try on some of her designs. As a fun a ...more
A.m. Layet
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The experts who review books at booksfc have a couple of rules. You need rules. They stop war, disaster and crumbs in the wrong places. But the experts don't like too many rules. So they have whittled them down to just these four fundamental rules.

Rule 1: All people have the right to release wind from their bottom in the place and at the time of their choosing.
Rule 2: Sharing is for girls.
Rule 3: Dresses are for girls.
Rule 4: Sharing dresses is for girls.

So, The Boy in the Dress was slightly pro
John Naylor
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I admit I started this book with a bit of trepidation. The title could have led to some mistakes and prejudice against a group of people I hold dear. Luckily, it wasn't the case here.

As a man who is not adverse to make up but doesn't have the figure for a dress I enjoyed the story. The main character was happiest when wearing a dress and that is the most important thing. Do what you want to as long as it makes you happy.

The supporting characters are all worthy to be in the novel. A sequence nea
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars
I was set to read this book as part of a challenge and wasn't expecting too much from it, but I have to say I was wrong! This was a very enjoyable book that I read in one session and it cleverly handled some sensitive issues in a way that would be very accessible to children. I say bravo on achieving this, and I do feel it is a book all children should read, so much scope for discussion from this in a classroom setting. There were two great lines in this book which will stay with me, 'D
The first book I have read by Walliams (out loud to my kids), enjoyed by them and not too bad for an adult reader. His style is deliberately reminiscent of Roald Dahl, an effect enhanced by the book being illustrated by Quentin Blake. Not as good as Dahl of course, but still plenty of laughs. Some themes are quite grown up (parental separation and the loneliness this causes for the main character, as well as 'cross dressing') but they are done in a light enough style that my 7 and 9yo listeners ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely book with beautiful illustrations about a little boy who learns to accept himself albeit to what the society or in case his his school talks about him. This is a beautiful book that all kids should read so we all learn to accept each other the way we are.
David Williams - I Have said this before and I still will - I am a FAN!
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I been wanting to read this book for a long time the whole concept of a boy in dress And in this book it just proves that you don't have to be a girl to wear a dress and you don't have to be boy to wear a Suit And it doesn't matter what you where you should just be the person you are inside this book was hilarious and I love David Williams and his whole sense of humor Such a great book and can't wait to read more of his stuff ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2019 Roe Reading ...: The Boy in the Dress - David Walliams 2 4 Nov 10, 2020 04:13AM  
2019 Roe Reading ...: The Boy in The Dress 4 8 Oct 10, 2020 06:47AM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 9786067882087 2 9 Mar 24, 2020 01:53AM  
Goodreads Librari...: page numbers not showing 2 16 Mar 15, 2020 11:04AM  
2018 Roe Reading ...: The boy in the dress 3 6 Oct 30, 2019 04:57AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • AniMalcolm
  • The Parent Agency
  • Fantastic Mr Fox
  • George's Marvellous Medicine
  • You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! (Mr. Gum, #1)
  • Birthday Boy
  • Head Kid
  • The Twits
  • Horrid Henry (Horrid Henry, #1)
  • The Person Controller
  • The Story of Tracy Beaker (Tracy Beaker, #1)
  • The BFG: A Set of Plays
  • Esio Trot
  • The Taylor TurboChaser
  • The Lottie Project
  • Double Act
  • The Witches: Plays for Children
  • The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
See similar books…
See top shelves…
David Walliams is an actor and writer best known for his work with Matt Lucas in the multi-award-winning sketch show Little Britain. His debut children's novel, The Boy in the Dress, was published in 2008 to unanimous critical acclaim and he has since developed a reputation as a natural successor to Roald Dahl. ...more

Related Articles

Oh hey, we're nearly halfway through 2021! We can't really believe it either... Traditionally, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial...
81 likes · 11 comments
“I think all those rules are boring. About what people can and can't wear. Surely everyone should be able to wear whatever they like?” 21 likes
“No more watching that show Small England or whatever it's called where those two idiots dress up as 'laydees'. It's a bad influence.” 9 likes
More quotes…