The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams (2009)

Once, Dennis was off school with a really bad cold on a match day. He had just finished watching that day’s Trisha, a gripping episode about a woman who discovered she was having an affair with her own husband. Then he was looking forward to some Heinz tomato soup and his second favorite show Loose Women, where a panel of angry looking ladies debated important issues of the day – like diets and leggings (p 29).

Boy in the Dress JKT_FINAL_REV.inddWalliams delivers a social satire with rapier wit and writing reminiscent of Raold Dahl. Dennis, whose home and school life reminds me strongly of Matilda’s, is boring and uneventful. His mother left two years ago, his father is depressed and his brother is a bully. Dennis, however, misses his mother and wishes he could talk about her. He is sensitive and clearly desirous of a female figure in his life.

So when Lisa, two years his senior, discovers Dennis has read Vogue, a close friendship develops that quickly leads to Dennis passing himself off as a girl in a dress. Dennis experiences a whole new world as a girl.

This book was a pleasure to read, taking me back to my own childhood when I read Spinelli and Dahl. I found myself laughing heartily and admiring the tactful way Walliams introduced possibly touchy topics to his child readers. Just wonderful.


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