Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Dashka Slater & illustrated by Valeria Docampo

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3374-9
Publisher: Dial

A story about a princess who relishes danger, illustrated with incongruous glossiness.

Princess Amanita loves anything perilous, from “her pet scorpion, and her brakeless bicycle, and her collection of daggers and broken glass” to a sporting walk, blindfolded, at a moat’s edge. Prince Florian (from a neighboring kingdom) accidentally blows a hole in her wheelbarrow by cutting, from her vine, an apparent bunch of grapes that are actually “grenapes”—they “explode three seconds after being picked.” Apologetic, he brings roses (new to Amanita, but luckily they’ve got thorns). She demands rose seeds to grow more thorns, but instead receives nose seeds due to an ambiguously handwritten note. Humor and wordplay—grape + grenade = grenape; nose plants rather than rose plants—sit alongside the danger theme, never quite meshing. Theme notwithstanding, Amanita’s shown in peril only late in the story, and few pages feature an aesthetically threatening vibe. Not only do most of Amanita's dangerous things go without depiction, the garden, “filled with prickles and stickles and brambles and nettles,” shows many cactus spikes as blunt-tipped. Despite much texturing, Docampo’s bright colors and stylized, dominantly curving lines feel more slick than dangerous, though Amanita's scorpion-sting hairdo is nicely menacing.

Given that feisty, dirt-or-danger-loving princesses are almost a subgenre of princess books, don’t choose this one first. (Picture book. 4-7)