A novelist responsible for many fine works of historical fiction for children turns his hand to a literary fairy tale, set in Ireland. When the usually sensible, kind King Desmond decides it's time for his only child, Princess Orla, to marry, he gives her a choice of only two equally haughty and disagreeable princes. Orla prefers unpretentious Prince Brian, whom the servants nickname ""Boghole""; her father agrees to a year's delay and a trail: who will bring the most wonderful bird? One brings an eagle, another a peacock, but when the birds take their turns at singing, it's Brian's nightingale that carries the day. Haugaard's telling is leisurely but accessible, with engaging touches of wry realism: ""'You have made your bed; now you must lie in it,' her father said, which was not true, for it was he who had made it, but that he had forgotten."" In her first picture book, Downing uses full-color double spreads to evoke a comfortable medieval castle, where the king kicks off his shoes to reveal a mended stocking; her well composed paintings are especially strong in characterization. This should serve well as either a read-aloud or a story for young readers to read themselves.