Two sisters living in the Middle of Nowhere get involved in a dangerous plot in this debut fantasy from England.
Farm girl Lavender completely believes that she will marry a prince, trusting her book of fairy tales implicitly. Practical Eliza tends to the farm and their loyal but enigmatic goat, Gertrude. When Lavender decides to take her fate into her own hands and disguise herself as a princess, she is kidnapped by the minions of the evil Mordmont to hold for ransom. He believes Lavender is the real deal, and Lavender decides he must be the beast who will turn back into a handsome prince when she gives him True Love’s First Kiss. Eliza, riding Gertrude, tracks her down and tries to rescue her. However, the girls will have to contend with moat-dragons, especially mother dragon Violet. Courtauld goes wild with puns and humorous turns of phrase: “There was a pause. Then, there were some paws”; in order to escape Lavender’s singing, “[b]adgers started hitting each other over the head with rocks in order to make themselves deaf.” Most pages sport whimsical pencil drawings by the author, some using more puns, such as a drawing of a tree hung with underpants for “pantry.” It’s mayhem, with fart jokes, direct addresses to readers, gleefully ridiculous names, and more.
Young readers will laugh themselves silly. (Fantasy. 7-10)