Bill's New Frock - A 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 for the year completely finalized.  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!
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 addresses gender inequality.  


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!

I had put together a selection of resources for my students, but was struggling to find a really complete novel study, and after a custom request, I decided to create my own.

DETAILS: 108 pages split into Chapters

This Bill's New Frock Novel Study was created to support students in the development of their reading comprehension skills. The activities are engaging and challenging, making the perfect companion to deepen students' enjoyment and understanding of the text.
The resource is formatted in three detailed sections:
SECTION 1: is intended to be used before students begin reading the book. They have the opportunity to research the author and make predictions.
SECTION 2: is a collection of book activities for students to complete. The format is the same for each chapter:
a. Before reading: Making predictions about the chapter.
b. During reading: Exploring the purpose of reading.
c. After reading:
  • Summarising
  • Comprehension questions
  • Activities 1-5
SECTION 3: should be used once the book is finished. Students are asked to review/reflect on the story.

If you'd like to check out this resource, just click on the image below!

1 comment

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


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