Bill's New Frock - Novel Study

Well, I survived my first week at school, although I do feel like I have been hit my a small train!! 
The week whizzed by and I felt slightly overwhelmed by my ever growing 'to-do' lists!

I still don't have my room completely finished or my curriculum completely decided upon for the year.  It has taken much longer that I expected to clear out my new room of 40 years worth of unusable 'educational resources' - I am sure I could find a better word here, but I think it would be unprintable!!

I am still getting used to the decor after spending 11 years in a bright yellow room!!  As this is now 2nd grade, I have no theme, but have used coordinating colors: lime green, pink and purple!!  What a mix!  If I ever get finished I will upload some pictures!

The kiddos arrived on Friday and in the first few minutes I could be found under a heap of small bodies being hugged to death - what a welcome!!  It was so lovely to see all their sweet faces again. If you follow me, you will know I am looping up - first time I have ever done this, but it has huge benefits!  The students know all the systems in class, therefore don't have to be trained.  I also know where they are academically without excessive testing and time wasting - I can just continue where I left off!  So far, I am happy!

We also welcomed 3 new teachers - they are a breath of fresh air - enthusiastic, friendly, motivated and lots of fun - just the lift the school needed after a very difficult last year.
One blot on the horizon was that my Mum was once again in Coronary Care - this is her third visit this summer.  This time she collapsed in the hair salon and an ambulance was called.  She is just so frail.  She was discharged from hospital yesterday and will be staying with us for a while. 
Anyhow - on to the point of this post!!  Our school teaches mostly through cross-curricular themes. My theme for this first half-term is 'Mighty Me'.  We will be exploring personal hygiene, teeth and our senses.  Our famous person study will be Helen Keller.  I am so excited about this topic as it has numerous possibilities!  I can't wait to get started on our Novel Study - 'Bill's New Frock' - this is a fabulously funny book which address gender inequality.  I have sourced excellent activities for our study, but would hope, when time permits, to eventually create my own.  Are there any teachers out there who would be interested in such a pack?  Hmmmmm.


Bill’s New Frock was written in 1989 by Anne Fine and revised in 2002. The hero of the story, Bill Simpson, wakes one morning and finds he has suddenly and inexplicably become a girl. The story is written with a lot of humour and vivid description about Bill’s predicament, embarrassment and horror in seven chapters. It raises the issue of how girls are sometimes treated differently to boys, and what is fair and unfair about people’s assumptions about boys’ and girls’ behaviour and abilities.

In the opening chapter, the light-hearted tone of the story is established by Bill’s parents’ lack of reaction to the discovery. They don’t notice anything strange, in fact, his mother insists he wears a pink frock to school and his father calls him ‘poppet’ and tells him he looks sweet.  On the way to school, Mean Malcolm whistles at him instead of kicking him, which Bill finds even worse!  During the day, Bill is expected to be neat and gets into trouble for messy handwriting. In the playground, he discovers boys dominate it with their football game, leaving no room for the girls. As the day progresses, Bill finds dresses impractical as his begins to get very dirty. When Bill is left with only girls’ comics to read during a wet lunchtime he gets angry and fights a boy. However, at this point Bill realises that there is an advantage to wearing a frock when the boy is blamed for the fight.  After break, the rain stops so the class go outside for races. Three girls hatch a plan to let Paul, who is disabled, win the final race. Bill is included in the plan but finds he wants to win.  The girls are furious with Bill, but Paul is so thrilled at coming second they forgive Bill. Both Kirsty and Mrs Collins tell Bill he doesn’t look quite right today. Then, on the way home Bill sees Mean Malcolm who whistles at him again. Bill stands up for himself and teaches Malcolm a lesson about respect. At home, his mother is horrified by the state of his dress, sending him to get changed and declaring never again to send him to school in a dress. Bill gets changed, looks in the mirror and is relieved and delighted to discover he is a boy again.


Anne Fine mostly writes humorous books and, particularly for younger readers, books that raise fairly serious social issues.  Her books are also very suitable for reluctant readers - she is one of my favorite authors and I hope she will soon be one of yours too!

If you have any suggestions for other books addressing these issues, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Have great week everyone!

1 comment

  1. Hello!
    I'm thinking of reading this book with my class! I'm VERY interested in this study guide! Email is Thank you!


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