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THE KING WHO WOULDN'T SLEEP

For pluckier princesses, try Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer’s Princess Pigsty (2007) and Mary Jane and Herman Auch’s The...

In this clever retelling of a common story, a king is determined to find the perfect prince for his lovely daughter.

So obsessed is the king that he vows to keep watch over the princess day and night—never sleeping—until he locates this perfect prince. Many princes seek the king’s favor, but he turns them all away, finding a fatal flaw in each. Undeterred, the princes try all manner of tricks and techniques to send the king off to dreamland, hoping for a chance to court the princess directly. The king proves impossible to fool, however, until a crafty farm boy enters the scene. He ultimately cons the king into counting 100 sheep, and, finally, the king is out like a light. He wakes to find the princess happy with the farmer, and a lavish wedding follows. Swain’s dynamic and appealing watercolor-and–color-pencil illustrations add charm, whimsy and amusing details to the happily-ever-after tale. For all the fun, though, there is also a bit of creepiness here—what with the father determined to watch his daughter every moment of the day until he marries her off and the princess sorely lacking a sense of agency.

For pluckier princesses, try Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer’s Princess Pigsty (2007) and Mary Jane and Herman Auch’s The Princess and the Pizza (2008). (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8997-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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