Princess Robin isn’t supposed to have adventures, but that doesn’t stop her in this French import.
Excited for the Aquatic Carnival, happy-go-lucky Princess Robin slips out of the castle without any adults catching her. Taking a shortcut through the woods, she comes across four brothers who, à la “Hansel and Gretel,” are terrified after having been dropped off in the woods by their father. Robin is determined to help them, and as adventures featuring a mermaid, pirates, kidnapping, and a candy house ensue, the quintet becomes fast friends. Adventures are broken down into three chapters (the book was originally published in three separate volumes), and each one includes a map and at least one interactive activity. “Dear reader,” prompts one, “please help our friends make the right choice! Which vine reaches all the way to the ground?” At least one, a connect-the-dots drawing, actively encourages children to put writing implement to book. The style and substance are less like Jeremy Whitley’s comic-book series Princeless or Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess and more as though Yellow Submarine and Luke Pearson’s Hilda had an extremely European baby. The scribbly crayon-and-ink illustrations have a bright, bold color palette and often take advantage of the diminutive size of Robin and her friends (all white-presenting) in their use of scale. Robin is one of only a few girl characters.
A quirky romp but also a niche one. (Graphic fantasy. 6-9)