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The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress

4.3 3
by David Walliams

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Everybody needs friends? especially a boy in a dress!

Dennis? life is boring and lonely. His mother left two years ago, his truck driver father is depressed, his brother is a bully and, worst of all, "no hugging" is one of their household rules. But one thing Dennis does have is soccer-he's the leading scorer on his team. Oh, and did we mention his secret


Everybody needs friends? especially a boy in a dress!

Dennis? life is boring and lonely. His mother left two years ago, his truck driver father is depressed, his brother is a bully and, worst of all, "no hugging" is one of their household rules. But one thing Dennis does have is soccer-he's the leading scorer on his team. Oh, and did we mention his secret passion for fashion?

When Dennis? friend Lisa discovers his stash of Vogue magazines, she convinces him to vamp it up and wear a dress to school. But in class, his hilarious hijinks as "Denise' are brought to a screeching halt when the headmaster discovers his secret and delivers the worst punishment of all-Dennis is expelled from school and therefore forbidden to play in the soccer Final Cup!

Can the team win the most important game of the year without their star player? And, more importantly, will Dennis gain the love and respect of his friends and family, even in a dress?

Editorial Reviews

Walliams...has written a witty, high-spirited and, well, sensible story about cross-dressing and other real life issues.
VOYA - Cynthia Winfield
In a British setting without cell phones, Dennis lives with his depressed father and older brother in a house devoid of humor and color since the departure of Dennis's mum some years back. No one speaks of her; no one hugs; all photos of her have been burned (save the scorched fragment in Dennis's pocket). Dennis misses hugging and the joy that his mother's presence brought. The enthusiastically involved mum of Dennis's best friend, Darvesh, offers light. A gifted football (soccer) player, Dennis thrives on the field. At home, television for women and Vogue magazine enthrall him. Dad is upset about these interests, and John calls his brother Denise. A playground mishap lands Dennis in detention where he connects with the school's most beautiful girl, Lisa, another fashion aficionado who opens a world of acceptance and joy, wherein a boy in a dress is welcome. Although marketed to an older group of readers, Walliams's witty and insightful novel will appeal more to the younger middle school reader. With the twelve-year-old protagonist, delightful illustrations by Blake, who is known for his partnership with Roald Dahl, large type, and often scatological humor, readers in grades four through six will enjoy it. Walliams's wit, his knack for exploiting stereotypes, and the narrative's authorial intrusions brought laughter to this reviewer. The story could be bleak, but Walliams endows his characters with gentleness and charm that promote hope. Engaging characters, deft plot twists, and bountiful humor make this book a joy to read. Reviewer: Cynthia Winfield
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—The protagonist in this offbeat story is Dennis, a 12-year-old boy whose eclectic interests range from football (soccer) to fashion. He's mocked for his purchase of Vogue magazine but he just can't resist poring over the photo shoots, enamored with the color, cut, and style of women's dresses. Dennis meets up with Lisa, the school hottie, who is two years older and also a fashion aficionado. She plays dress up with Dennis and convinces him to come to school as "Denise," a French exchange student. Hilarity ensues as soccer-star Dennis, outfitted in an orange sequined sheath, complete with wig and makeup, attempts to pull off the ruse. This quirky comedy also has poignant moments between Dennis and his dad and brother. It's a quick read and Blake's stylistic line illustrations are the icing on the cake. All that being said, it's difficult to predict an audience for this book. Younger students may be turned off by the Briticisms, and it's a bit too juvenile for older readers.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Kirkus Reviews
British comedian Walliams tells the story of Dennis, who lives in a dreary house with his depressed, working-class dad and older brother. He's the star of his soccer team, but the thing that really gives Dennis's life magic is his penchant for women's fashion. An unlikely friendship with an older fashionista at school, the beautiful and popular Lisa, causes Dennis to impersonate a French exchange student-a female one, complete with dress, high heels and makeup, all of which he simply adores wearing. Readers may think he's about to come out, but it turns out he's just a boy who loves to wear ladies' clothing. Comic complications ensue; Dennis is found out and expelled, which puts his school soccer team in jeopardy. Brits may find cross-dressing hilarious, but even with the snappy writing and Blake's clever illustrations, it may be a harder sell on this side of the Atlantic. The message, however-we're all a bit different, and we should follow our own bliss and accept others-is solid. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Children's Literature - Summer Whiting
Dennis is going through adolescence and it has not been easy. For one thing, his mother walked out on him and his family. He is left with his brother and very depressed, truck-driving father. He enjoys soccer and is quite good at it, but he realizes that he is missing out on some excitement. One day he discovers a copy of Vogue magazine and a whole new world is opened up right before him: the shoes, the dresses. Something stirs inside of him. After a mix-up with the headmaster, he finds himself in detention with only the most beautiful girl in the entire school. Lisa happens to fancy fashion equally as much, and they develop a very unsuspecting friendship. Lisa has a brilliant idea. She will dress Dennis up in one of her very own creations, a sequined dress, and try to pass him off as a new French exchange student. Needless to say, the lack of excitement becomes the least of his worries. Will they pull it off? Readers will enjoy the antics of this boy, and it is sure to garner some big laughs. Underneath the amusement, there are some tender moments about self-awareness and familial relationships. Blake's illustrations only add to the story's hilarity and make this book quite enjoyable. Reviewer: Summer Whiting

Product Details

HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:
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Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Quentin Blake is a well-known artist whose work has made him popular on both sides of the Atlantic. He has illustrated most of Roald Dahl's children's books as well as many others. He lives in London, where he teaches illustration at the Royal College of Art.

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The Boy in the Dress 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is also funny in places but can get quite sad to. It shows that you can be anything you want to be and that being different isnt always a bad thing. The charater in the book shows real induvidualaty and learns to get enough confedence to be himself in public and in front of public and not just keeping your true colours to yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago