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County Durham author wins Indie Book Award for inclusive children’s book



A children’s author, born and raised in County Durham, has won the Indie Bookshop Award for his joyous tale of boy meets dress, The Dress in the Window. Selected by a panel of independent booksellers from across the country, Robert Tregoning’s second book was announced as the winner of the picture book category on Thursday 20th June.


Published by Oxford University Press, The Dress in the Window echoes Robert’s childhood joy in exploring the haberdashery section of Bainbridge’s department store (now John Lewis and Partners) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Eldon Square, as well as a real-life dress in the window that captured the heart of his husband during his own childhood.


When talking about his inspiration for the story, Robert said: ‘It’s true that in many ways this book is stitched together from various fond memories – both my own and those of my husband, Billy. Growing up, I always felt drawn to things that were traditionally considered feminine, which was tricky at the time. The Dress in the Window is very much a celebration of expressing yourself and re-thinking gender norms.’


In the 32-page story, illustrated by Pippa Curnick, a little boy dreams of owning a dress he sees in a shop window and makes it his mission – with a little support from his mum and local community – to get it!


‘For me, it was really important that within this story, a boy wanting to own a dress was seen as completely unremarkable,’ Robert explained. ‘His mum, his neighbours and everyone in the book support him 100% – there’s no shame or embarrassment, no trying to persuade him to get something stereotypically masculine – which is something I wish I’d seen represented as a child.’


‘My heart is certainly disco dancing today and I’m filled with pride. I hope this book, like many of the stories I write, helps people to feel seen, to feel understood and to feel celebrated. I can’t thank the Indie Book Awards enough for bringing even more sparkle to the celebration.’

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