A gentle fairy tale about a young prince with Down syndrome who saves his kingdom from a menacing knight.
This rather lengthy picture book, first published in Germany, begins with the introduction of the king and queen and their two soccer-playing sons. A third child is born to the family, a son named Noah who “looks a little different.” He is portrayed in cheerful illustrations as a happy child with tilted eyes who moves slowly and seldom speaks, though Down syndrome is not specifically mentioned within the story. While many residents of the kingdom look at Noah in a quizzical or critical way, the family accepts and loves Noah as he is, calling him “the Prince Who Was Just Himself.” When the kingdom is threatened by a knight named Scarface, Prince Noah disarms the invader with an empathetic question and a hug. Though the story is somewhat melodramatic and just a little too sweet, it offers a special needs child in a positive, starring role and can be read simply as a satisfying fairy tale or as a beginning introduction to Down syndrome.
The author, herself the mother of a child with Down syndrome, and the illustrator ably introduce a difficult subject in a fictional context with a light, sure touch. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)