Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book 38 - The boy in the dress by David Walliams - an ordinary town in England

This is the story of Dennis - an ordinary boy who lives in an ordinary house in an ordinary street in an ordinary town in England. This is not an ordinary book though, it is extra-ordinary in that it tells exactly how Dennis feels - his mother left one day and after a while in a house where the rules include "No talking about Mum. No Crying. And worst of all - no hugging." Dennis is full of sadness.

Dennis saves one part of a photo of his mother from the bonfire of photos his father burned in their gardenl. In that photo she is laughing with him and wearing a pretty floral dress. While he is at the corner shop one day Dennis sees a copy of Vogue magazine with a model wearing a similar dress and he buys it and secretly reads it cover to cover.

An after school detention leads him to meeting one of the most beautiful and popular girls in the school, Lisa,  and as they walk home together they discuss fashion. She is amazed at his knowledge and thus begins their friendship. Together they push the boundaries of what is considered usual and it leads to some very unexpected consequences.

David Walliams the author of the book is well known in England as one of the comedy duet in the series "Little Britain." One of their regular skits is actually mentioned in the book - where the two men dress up in women's clothing and pretend to be "ladies". I wondered if this book too would be a comedy. It is not - it is more a classic British tale of triumph over tragedy. I thought the emotions in the book were real and raw and many students could easily relate to them. I will suggest this as a read aloud to some of our grade 5 and 6 teachers.

From the National Library of New Zealand