Schoolteachers Flinn and Fleury use a story of princes and princesses to introduce children to tuberous sclerosis complex in this child-friendly debut.
Princess Katie lives with her younger sister, Princess Sydney; her father, the King; and her mother, the Queen. Her life is mostly normal for a fairy-tale princess, as she lives in a castle, rides a pony and has tea parties. She also goes to school at the Royal Academy with many other princes and princesses, and takes part in fun extracurricular activities, such as swimming and ballet. But unlike her friends, Katie has to go to the doctor’s office frequently to get blood tests, ultrasounds and MRIs. Her parents explain to her that the reason for the visits is tuberous sclerosis complex, a disease she was born with that causes her body to work differently than other kids’. Although the symptoms vary, Princess Katie sometimes has seizures, which she likens to scary, unpredictable dragon attacks. She also needs extra help at school sometimes, and although she likes to play with other children, she occasionally has a hard time understanding her peers. A picnic with other kids who have TSC helps Katie understand that her disease isn’t something to worry about—it’s just something that makes her special. Flinn’s use of princes and princesses to stand in for ordinary girls and boys wears a bit thin, as she changes little about her characters’ world aside from adding the title “Royal” to the hospital and school settings. However, the conceit may work for children who gravitate toward princess stories and fairy tales. Fleury’s sweet illustrations present a range of skin tones and positive depictions of differently abled children. Although the pages are text-heavy, the vocabulary is manageable for newly independent readers. Overall, this depiction of TSC will help children to gain a sympathetic understanding of a rare disease.
An appealing introduction to TSC through a fairy-tale lens.