Review: Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

jacobs new dress

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case

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.

Reviewed from library copy.

Children’s Book Council of Australia 2014 Book of the Year Awards Short Lists

The Children’s Book Council of Australia has announced the short lists for their Book of the Year Awards.  There are five categories in the awards and the council also announces notables each year.  Here are the short lists:


Fairytales for Wilde Girls The First Third The Incredible Here and Now

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near

The First Third by Will Kostakis

The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna

16119664 The Sky So Heavy Wildlife

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

Wildlife by Fiona Wood



A Very Unusual Pursuit (City of Orphans, #1) Light Horse Boy My Life as an Alphabet

City of Orphans: A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks (In US, published as How to Catch a Bogle)

Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Brian Simmonds

My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg (In US, published as The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee)

Song for a Scarlet Runner Violet Mackerel's Possible Friend

Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis



Baby Bedtime 18751291

Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox, illustrated by Emma Quay

Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Granny Grommet and Me I'm a Dirty Dinosaur

Granny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Karen Blair

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Ann James

19320490 The Swap

Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester

The Swap by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andrew Joyner


PICTURE BOOK (Illustrations)

King Pig Parachute

King Pig by Nick Bland

Parachute by Matt Ottley, text by Danny Parker

Rules of Summer The Silver Button

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

The Silver Button by Bob Graham

The Treasure Box the-windy-farm

The Treasure Box by Freya Blackwood, text by Margaret Wild

The Windy Farm by Craig Smith, text by Doug MacLeod



Ice, Wind, Rock : Douglas Mawson in the Antarctic - Peter Gouldthorpe Jandamarra 

Ice, Wind, Rock by Peter Gouldthorpe

Jandamarra by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Terry Denton

Jeremy 17674558

Jeremy by Christopher Faille, illustrated by Danny Snell

Meet Captain Cook by Rae Murdie, illustrated by Chris Nixon

Welcome to My Country Yoko's Diary

Welcome to My Country by Laklak Burarrwanga and Family

Yoko’s Diary: The Life of a Young Girl in Hiroshima during WWII edited by Paul Ham