David Walliam’s “The Boy in the Dress”


“It would be boring if we were all the same, wouldn’t it?” Dennis’s best friend comforts him. Dennis, the main character in Walliam’ s book, is a 12 years-old teenager, brilliant at soccer, who lives together with his brother and father “in an ordinary house in an ordinary street in an ordinary town” somewhere in Britain. His life feels so boring “that something extraordinary had to happen”.

You may ask why the book is called “The Boy in the Dress”? Well, it’s because Dennis likes to put on dresses; this passion of cross-dressing though is not welcomed by all the characters in the story and results in a series of unfortunate, sometimes comical circumstances…

“The Boy in the Dress” invited us, pupils of year 9, to debate lots of appealing themes; we thus had lively (online) discussions on broken home situations and their influence on kids, on team spirit and demonstrating backbone or on modern gender roles and our attitude towards them. And we critically examined social clichees hinted at in the book. Does showing emotions mean you are unmanly or does wearing a dress make a boy gay? Besides, we got an insight into British culture. We are, for example, now familiar with school uniform rules, British food and drinks, popular soap operas or corner shops which are often owned by Pakistani or Indian immigrants.

With lots of creative tasks our class could also show other talents than reading and speaking English: we drew Dennis mum’s favourite dress, designed a graffiti, practiced Raj’s (the kiosk owner’s) Indian accent (https:/m/www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7MIyQS9p5E), took part in a vocabulary challenge or quiz on quotations, were literary translators or designed our own photo story based on “The Boy in the Dress”. To finish off our reading project, we watched the filming of the book online at home (due to the A-levels that took place in school) and could also get a taste of the musical version of “The Boy in the Dress” with music written by Robbie Williams.

All in all, an inspiring and motivating project that made our English lessons with Ms Helms for most of us interesting and diverting, with a clear message: Follow your own bliss or “be whoever you want to be!”

Anja Schumacher, Anton Rößler, 9d; J. Helms

2021 05 28 Praise of individuality 9d Hs Bild