Jacob's New Dress Sarah & Ian Hoffman Book Review

Jacob's New Dress by Sarah Hoffman & Ian Hoffman
Illustrated by Chris Case
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release Date: March 1, 2014

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.