Debut author and illustrator Himes reimagines the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” and sets her story in an African-American community in the mid-1950s.
There is a princess, and there are peas, but that’s the extent of the connection to the original tale. Here, Ma Sally is the best cook in Charleston County, South Carolina, famous for her black-eyed peas and supper tables piled high with collard greens, sweet potatoes, and hot rolls. But she’s concerned about finding a wife for her son, John. “She couldn’t bear the thought of her only child sitting down to an ill-cooked meal.” So a cooking contest ensues, and a young lady named Princess wins hands down, making the best black-eyed peas Ma Sally’s ever tasted. But Princess has a mind of her own, and John must live up to her standards as well. Turns out Princess and John are two peas in a pod, and Ma Sally couldn’t be happier. Himes uses a variety of media—acrylic, watercolor, pencil, ink, and collage—to create a series of double-page spreads that complement her story about a strong and embracing African-American community on the brink of the civil rights movement.
Dedicated to “black families everywhere,” this heartwarming story, with its fairy-tale tone, will have broad appeal. (author’s note, recipe) (Picture book. 5-8)