“It’s not much fun being a princess: you have to be prim, proper and obedient. Princess Peony lives in a world full of magical creatures – hags, trolls, giants and fairy godmothers – but her father’s strict rules leave her feeling bored and lonely. She wants to learn how to DO things, and cooking’s at the top of her list. But when Peony borrows a recipe book from the public library, the king has the old librarian who tried to help her arrested for “speaking out of turn”. Can Peony stand up to her father and make things right?”
The publisher’s blurb sums up this engaging story very well. Despite being somewhat of a misfit in her family shunning shoes and pretty dresses to better herself, she counts down the days till her 13th birthday when she is allowed an unescorted “educational” visit but is dismayed to find that her plans to again visit the library which she first discovered when she was nine, are thwarted by Mrs Beef who believes a visit to the family’s mausoleum to study her ancestors would be much better for her. But she manages to escape, makes her way to the library and there her adventures really begin…
For independent readers who like their princesses to have some attitude but also compassion, this is a new take on the more traditional tale. Lovers of familiar fairy tales will see it still has many of the features of the originals with a tyrant king with old-fashion views; older, self-absorbed sisters who treat the youngest one with disdain; the mean, miserable governess with the iron fist; fairy godmothers who can grant wishes; a neglected old hag who is cranky that her invitation to the new prince’s christening has not arrived; dark gloomy dungeons where innocents sit forgotten for years; a talking cat… and only one person who can save the day when trouble threatens. But they will also like the determination, compassion, resilience and self-reliance of Peony who is more like them and isn’t relying on a handsome prince to get her out of bother.
Vivian French’s storytelling is accompanied by a sprinkling of illustrations that add charm and character, making this ideal for a bedtime read-along or read-alone for the 7+ age group.
This is a clever romp-in-rhyme through the characters of familiar fairy tales and folktales that will bring back memories of loved stories as well as suggest new ones to explore. Who is Herd Boy? Why was the Nymph protecting her tree? And why is ‘ugly’ just a disguise? Perfect for extending children’s reading into traditional tales from a range of countries as they try to match character with story.
But while the illustrations are quirky, I’m not so sure that the target audience is attracted to these muted, retro colours that seem to be so prominent in children’s books at the moment. My experience of 45 years with littlies is that children will view the cover as quite dull and pass it over in favour of something more eye-catching, so that while the text is brilliant it will take an adult’s encouragement to entice the child to explore it.
What do Demeter and Persephone, Finn MacCool and the fish of Maui all have in common? Well, they are included in this collection of stories from around the world beautifully illustrated by Anya Klauss.
In times long past before the truth was known, many of the things like the sun’s passage across the sky or the formation of the land were a mystery to those observing them so they made up stories to explain the particular phenomenon. Even though they came from far-flung places and diverse peoples. their common thread was to explain the seemingly inexplicable so that the world made sense to them. Whether it involved giants, mythical beings and creatures, magic or sorcery, each story sought to demystify and through their telling through generations across thousands of years they have endured, even though science may have intervened to expose the truth.
As well as being a wonderful introduction to these sorts of stories and embracing a range of cultures, such myths can also be the entry point into scientific investigations for young and not-so-young scientists. If Maui did not fish the North Island of New Zealand out of the sea, how did it get there? If the changing of the seasons are not caused by Demeter’s love and loss, how are they formed? A great way to link literature and science and start our students on their own quests.
Long before J.K. Rowling introduced us to basilisks, blast-ended skrewts and bow-truckles, literature was alive with fantastic creatures stretching way back into the mythology of ancient civilisations. “Mythology is a place where we can meet all kinds of beings, from human-like spirits to hybrids formed from two or more different animals.”
From giants to griffins, Cerberus to Pegasus this luxuriously illustrated book introduces a menagerie of sixteen fantastic creatures and explains their origins and their powers. With the illustrations being done by a variety of artists and a myriad of techniques used, this is a lavish visual feast that has the reader delving into each creature’s story and learning the background of those things that inhabit so many favourite books and films and may even take them on a journey through the mythologies of storytellers, perhaps even investigate why they populate history in the way they do.
This is a must-have in any school library collection to satisfy the fascination with fantasy and those which inhabit that world that shows no signs of abating.
Dennis introduces to his dinosaur friends and the places they live, what they like to eat and other simple facts while Angel and her fairy friends show what goes on in the fairy garden through bright pictures and intriguing lift-the-flaps which will appeal to the very young and help them understand that books, stories and reading contain lots of fun and interest.
Two new publications perfect for the toddler’s Christmas stocking.
It is one of the great mysteries of our times. Ever since washing machines were automated and readily available, pairs of socks have been forever separated, never to meet their match again. And Sarah’s house is no different – there is a basket full of odd socks and her mum is on a mission to find their partners.
But Sarah knows where they are – the fairy families that live in her house are masters at repurposing them for all sorts of fun and games – and she is desperate that her mother not discover the truth. She even suggests that they take Max the puppy for a walk instead but her mother is not to be deterred or distracted and so the great sock hunt begins. However, even though she searches high and low, in cupboards, behind doors, in the bathroom, under the furniture, and in brother Thomas’s bedroom, her mother’s eyes are not as sharp as Sarah’s and she does not see what is really happening with the socks. But when she is satisfied with the two she does find Sarah breathes a sigh of relief – until her mother suggests that they now start searching for lost pens…
This is an utterly charming story from the team that created the outstanding Don’t Think About Purple Elephantsthat reminded me of The Borrowersby Mary Norton (and which would be a great read-together serial as a follow-on.) Like Sarah, the reader has to have sharp eyes to find what has happened to the socks because so much of the story is in the wonderful illustrations – a trait of perfect picture books in my opinion.
Young children will take great delight in seeing what adults can’t as they try to spot all the fairies as well as suggesting what else they might use the socks for. Maybe that is where all the missing socks in their homes have disappeared to – watch them go searching but don’t let them tell!
Miss 5 loved this – we read it over and over during a recent visit and there was something new to discover each time! And yes, The Borrowers will be the next family serial.