by & illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 6
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Mack and Gran make a joint debut with this whimsical story of an inventive little girl named Penelope who likes to pretend she is a princess. In a repeating refrain set in bright pink type, she announces, “I’m Penelope, and I am a princess!” followed by a comparison of the many similarities between her lifestyle and the lives of the princesses in her fairy tales (thrones, fancy foods, servants, carriages, giving commands, and making demands). Sometimes Penelope seems to be a real little girl in the illustrations, and sometimes she does indeed seem to be a real princess, living in her own palace with her mother and father who are clearly dressed as the king and queen. At first reading, this blurring of reality and fantasy can be a bit confusing (at least to adults), but Gran’s sophisticated watercolors in shades of lavender and pink provide the clue to Penelope’s interior world. The realistic portions of the illustrations have white backgrounds and all the fantasy elements are surrounded with a subtle pink watercolor wash. Once this device is understood, Penelope’s psyche is unlocked, and we see that she is indeed a real child with a rich imagination and a solid background in traditional fairy tales. Gran’s contemporary illustrations have a French flair, incorporating thick black outlines and lots of swirling motifs complimented by a typeface that looks like handwriting. Literal-minded children won’t connect with Penelope, but imaginative princess wannabes will consider her a kindred spirit. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-22436-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2003