At the weekend, Dad's Red Dress and I found ourselves in the famous orange chair that belongs to Children's Books Ireland, at their annual conference in the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin. Have to say, it felt very comfortable and would fit nicely in front of our fireplace!
Earlier this year, CBI gave this little first book of mine a wonderful review in their online Ínis magazine, so it felt right to feel celebratory. Not only because the weekend was full of success stories on stage, all peppered with very real journeys, often difficult and challenging, but because I was talking for two days with fellow writers, with magnificent illustrators, enthusiastic librarians and educators from all around the world.
Review by Children’s Books Ireland of Dad’s Red Dress by L.J. Sedgwick
Jessie Keane just wants her family to be normal… utterly, completely normal. Having moved from L.A. back to Ireland, normality would offer a chance to avoid the ‘looks’, the rumours and the bullying that she has dealt with in the past. But ‘normal’ is hardly possible. Not with a little sister who claims to have been abducted by the Virgin Mary (twice), a wildly contemporary artist stepmother and a creative architect father with a penchant for cross-dressing. As she tries to balance this eccentric, yet loving family, and what she hopes will be an ordinary school life, Jessie is put to the test when a new development shakes the façade she is working so hard to craft. She must stop this! Or so she thinks…
When I picked up Dad’s Red Dress, I expected a book that was quirky, entertaining and funny. What I did not expect was a novel that spoke to the heart of what it means to grow up. Filled with vivid, genuine characters and complex, conflicting family drama, it is joyous, loving and truly unique among the vast canon of coming-of-age stories. Each character is intricately drawn. Difficult subject matter is handled with great sensitivity. The dialogue is realistic and relatable for any young person. And while the situation may be unusual, the emotional impact is not. It gives the reader much to consider about life, friendship, who we really are and what makes a family. is indeed humourous; a delight to read. Simply wonderful.
Review by Mary Esther Judy
Some pictures from the conference.