Princess Lizzie learns about political problems in her own kingdom in Van’s (Princess Lizzie and the Sabotaged Magic Bicycle, 2014, etc.) third picture book fusing magic and technology.
After discovering that Sir Hippo’s health is waning, Princess Lizzie, daughter of King Harry, plans to help him by traveling to a medically advanced future. She, Sir Hippo, Giraffe and Monkey work together on a magic cloak that will allow Lizzie to travel in time—even though such travel is verboten. Years earlier, Prince Bob, King Harry’s brother, released monsters into the kingdom with time-travel technology and was banished. But just as the friends complete Lizzie’s cloak, a Dontgot, a mysterious creature, sneaks in and tampers with it. After a series of mishaps that exposes Lizzie to a bleak reality of hungry children with limited access to education, Lizzie meets her cousin Zoie, the exiled Prince Bob’s daughter, who looks just like her. Zoie reveals that she was the one who tampered with Lizzie’s cloak; she wanted Lizzie to see what her people, the Dontgots, suffered after being exiled from the kingdom. Zoie gives Lizzie an herbal cure for Sir Hippo (which miraculously works), and Lizzie attempts to ask her father to improve things for the people on the outskirts of their kingdom. When he silences her, Lizzie throws a temper tantrum and immediately gets her way: King Harry revises the exile law and provides food and education for the Dontgots, who are renamed Citizens. While Zoie is ultimately a sympathetic character, despite her breaking of the rules and her initial appearance as a villain, and Lizzie’s desire to help those less fortunate is admirable, the ease with which the solution is accomplished may lead young readers to believe that solving poverty is a simple issue. As with other volumes in the series, the bright pictures and kid-friendly storyline are geared toward an audience in second grade or younger, but the vocabulary is more appropriate for older students (“pragmatic,” “infuse,” “degenerative,” “implemented”).
A brightly illustrated, well-intentioned story of social justice and generosity, too simply solved to be satisfying.