The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
I know that it is a really obvious thing to say but making sure you read three chapters a night of a book is a great way to read more! It has been quite a while since I've read this much fiction in such a short space of time, and in addition to loving the shared reading experience. I am also finding that I am also reading more of my own books too - a regular reading habit is a great thing!
Anyhow our third joint read was something completely different, being a hugely popular contemporary read. Kentishbookboy's thoughts are purple and mine (with interjections from my sister!) are in brown.
The Boy in the Dress
Dennis lives in a boring town, in a boring street, in a boring town. But he's about to find out that when you open your mind, life becomes anything but boring! Life has a way of surprising you with events and opinions.
Dennis is a normal boy, he mostly keeps his head down at school and at home although he is something of a star on the football pitch. Inside he feels different - an interest in fashion isn't normal for a boy, is it?
Dennis lives a tough life in his home with his brother and dad. He struggles with his feelings, regarding his love of fashion and dressing up in a feminine way. The family don't share their feelings, which leads Dennis to hiding his secret.
Dennis' mother has left the family leaving a big hole in house - both physically and emotionally. Dennis' dad tries to stamp out anything feminine which leaves Dennis feeling alone and bewildered. Not being allowed to share his feelings, and always having to 'man up' causes Dennis lots of problems.
The friendships between Dennis, Darvesh, and Lisa is an important feature in the story because it brings people closer together.
Dennis' love for dresses teaches people it is ok to be different, something that his dad and brother learn by the end.
Friendship is a strong theme in the book as is accepting that people are all different. Standing up for your beliefs is also touched on, as well as knowing how to apologise.
I'm not sure I would recommend the book since it includes rudeness towards the beginning of the book, and blackmailing at the end. Four stars.
I also agree with the Kentishbookboy in that I don't think I'd recommend this book either (and neither would his mum!). Our problems with the book also match his but we'd also like to add that we weren't impressed with Walliams' self referential mention of Little Britain. The whole idea of accepting people can be different (and that boys can wear dresses if they like) is a good one, but the writing style just didn't hit the spot for us and by the end it wasn't actually clear that this applied to everyone and not just the book's hero.
I'm also not sure that the message that it is okay for boys to have feelings was carried through - Dennis' dad only came round slightly when Dennis had a sporting success, and even then the idea of hugging between boys/men as the norm was not accepted.
Like the Kentishbookboy I also thought the whole ending, with blackmail was inappropriate. A grudging three stars from me!
We always knew that we wouldn't love all the books we read but going from Dahl and the Umbrella Mouse to this was a real shock. I was pleased that we tried a Walliams, I do like to stay in touch with what is popular in the kidlit world but for the life of me (apart from the short chapters) I can't see why Walliams is as popular as he is, and the view of one nine year old backs this up!
Another shock to the system next as we're moving on to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Mr Norfolkbookworm is going to join in with our read as well!