The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
Girl power is celebrated in this picture book that turns the princess role firmly on its head. Princess Sue has been lingering in her castle for over 100 years, waiting for her prince to come and rescue her. Just as she is about to lose it, her prince appears on horseback and whisks her off. But just as Sue thinks that she is heading to freedom, the prince arrives at his castle where Sue is given her own tower filled with dresses and shoes and informed that she shouldn’t even be thinking of adventures. But Sue refuses to give up on her dreams and when she sees a fearsome dragon flying nearby, she gets a clever idea.
I must admit to a certain adoration for books that take girls away from the stereotypical princess role and make them active participants in their own destinies. So this book is right up my alley. Told in rhyme, the effect is dashing and active rather than sweet and stately. It also has the feel of a bard’s story about Princess Sue. The writing is also humorous and fun-filled.
The illustrations of the book are bright-colored and also filled with humor. Sue’s long braids dangle down, her dress changes as the story progresses, and the sharing of tea with a dragon is definitely something to see.
Get this in the hands of modern children who want to be more than princesses (and princes) as well as dragon-lovers. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Join Beekle, an imaginary friend, who is so special that no child seems to be able to even imagine him. He waits and waits along with the other imaginary creatures, but he is never dreamed of by a child. So Beekle does what no other imaginary friend has ever done, he heads out to find his child in the real world. He finds himself in a big city, filled with grey people and lots of adults. Luckily, he spots a bright familiar color and shape and follows it to a playground where he thinks he can find his special friend. But they don’t come. Beekle climbs a tree to see if he can spot his friend, but still no one comes. Beekle climbs down, then a small girls gestures for him to get her paper out of the tree. And on that page… Well, you will just have to imagine it for yourself or get this charmer of a book to read and find out what happens next.
Santat has created a book that reads like a modern classic. He has combined so many wonderful moments and positive feelings here that it’s like drinking a cup of cocoa for the spirit. Beekle himself is perfection, a round and friendly little soul whose crown is made of construction paper and tape and who is unwilling to sit lonely when he could do something about his situation. His positive reaction to a dismal situation is a great model for children.
At the same time, this is a testament to imagination. Both a warm embrace of imaginary friends and their positive role in children’s lives. But also a celebration of Santat’s own imagination. The world he creates is filled with the grey of adulthood, but childhood and imagination make that world shine in new colors.
A delight of a picture book, this is one to share cuddled up in bed and to cheer aloud with the story. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.