Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Don’t Kiss the Frog!  Compiled by Fiona Waters, 80 pages.
The modern fairy tales in this quirky collection, subtitled Princess Stories with Attitude, are populated with unconventional princesses who do things their own way.  And why not?  Waiting for a prince to come to the rescue is SO yesterday - and is it really necessary to be a knight in order to defeat a dragon?
Readers will meet Princess Greta, who outwits a dastardly fire-breathing dragon which has been stealing lambs, chickens and knights throughout the kingdom.  (She later persuades it to become a vegetarian.) 
Princess Rose is determined to choose her own prince to wed (instead of having Prince Charming choose her) – which she does after rescuing him from a bog.
Readers will also meet Princess Jane, who has been raised as an ordinary child, living in a house instead of a castle. When she stays in a castle for the first time, she discovers how uncomfortable and boring the life of a traditional princess really is. Even riding in a horse-drawn carriage is no fun – it’s far too bumpy and uncomfortable.  Soon she ditches the entire princess life – carriage, castle, starchy dresses and scratchy tiara included – and returns in the family minivan to her own comfortable bungalow.
The princesses featured in this collection know that there are a couple of truths that should always be observed.  Stay in your fairy godmother’s good books - and above all, don’t kiss the frog!
Common sense, a can-do attitude and a generous dose of humour prevail in this fun, colourful anthology of spunky princess stories written by seven children’s authors.  Loosely based on traditional tales such as Sleeping Beauty, The Three Bears and The Frog Prince, this book is a treat.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years.

It’s a Pain to be a Princess!  By Carmen Gil, 28 pages.
If a girl finds that being a princess is a real pain (after all, who really wants to spend the rest of their life tripping over long dresses, walking in shoes that pinch, wearing a heavy crown, taking boring etiquette lessons and waiting for a Prince Charming?), then what can she do?
Princess Nona didn’t wait around for anyone else to answer that question!  Knowing that the princess life definitely wasn’t for her, she threw away her crown and went off to find her true destiny.
First, Nona became a pirate.  “The plucky princess sailed her ship / With gusto, verve and spleen, / And became the best-known pirate / The world had ever seen!”
Despite her success on the seven seas, Nona decided to try something different after a time.  She became a brave knight who rescued cats from trees and snatched helpless princes from the jaws of fiery dragons. 
After many knightly adventures, it was time to try something different yet again – something a little safer.  Giving up her horse and armour, Nona became a minstrel and storyteller, travelling from town to town to tell stories and rhymes, sing and perform juggling tricks, to the delight of young and old alike.  
Nona now realized that she had found her true destiny. In making other people happy as a storyteller, Nona had found her own happiness – and her father, the king, agreed that this was the best choice. “To bring her back / Would make her life a mess / For Nona simply was not born to be / A fairytale princess.”
Carmen Gil’s pleasing tale of following one’s dreams is nicely enhanced with rhyming text and the whimsical art of Daniel Galan.

** Recommended for ages 5 to 7 years.  

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on September 12, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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