It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts
We are also inviting everyone to join our new Reading Challenge for 2014 called Check Off your Reading List Challenge (CORL 2014). Click here to read the guidelines and to sign up! If you have already signed up for this challenge, here is the January-March linky where you can link up your reviews or updates from your reading list.
Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.
Last week, I shared two adorable picture books about make-believe princesses. Today, I have two more picture books to add to our pool of books as we continue with our theme, A Game of Thrones: Blue Bloods, Queenship, and Aristocracy.
Written by: Ann Campbell
Illustrated by: Kathy Osborn Young
Published by: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang
Own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
Ann Campbell’s Once Upon a Princess and a Pea is a modern retelling of the children’s classic – you guessed it – The Princess and the Pea. In Campbell’s version, A king and queen had arranged for their daughter, the beautiful Princess Esmeralda, to marry King Frobius.
“[King Frobius was] a king of great wealth and power. He had a kingdom all of his own. They did not mention, however, that King Frobius was fifty-three-years-old, that dancing was forbidden in his kingdom, or that he had lost almost all of his teeth – which everyone knew, even the lowliest servant.”
Needless to say, Princess Esmeralda did not approve of this arrangement. As she stood on the high wall that surrounded the castle from which the town below could be easily seen, Princess Esmeralda has decided to quit being a princess and flee before the toothless king could get his hands on her.
While these were happening in Princess Esmeralda’s household, a royal family from another kingdom was dealing with problems of their own. A prince named Hector was asked by his parents to begin searching for a true princess to be his bride. What followed was a series of “castle sleepovers” – for it was necessary to carry out his mother’s instructions – that all ended in disappointment.
Princess Esmeralda and Prince Hector would eventually meet but I will leave that for you to find out. Page after page, Kathy Osborn Young’s vivid illustrations bring Campbell’s narrative to life. Similar in style, Young’s illustrations in the book reminded me of Giselle Potter’s artwork.
I think that the issues brought up by Ann Campbell’s version of The Princess and the Pea are relevant to this day. Somewhere in this world, parents continue to act as merry matchmakers for their children while others pressure their children into marrying. Then, there’s also the pea, the sure sign, the “X factor,” that one is a “true” princess. Through Campbell’s engaging storytelling, Once Upon a Princess and a Pea reminds us that, pea or no pea, your own happiness plays a key in finding your better half.
Written by: Margaret Atwood
Illustrated by: Maryann Kovalski
Published by: Workman Publishing Company
Own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
How do I love this book? Let me count the ways…
While I have not read books by Margaret Atwood – shame, I know – I fell in love with her short story, Happy Endings. It was part of the syllabus in my Fiction class when I took English Literature before pursuing Psychology. I also fell in love with two of her poems: Variations on the Word Sleep and Variations on the Word Love.
It was not a surprise at all that Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut was such a delight to read! The book tells the story of Princess Prunella, a princess who’s so prissy, ill-mannered, and self-absorbed that you would love to hate her.
“Princess Prunella! Pray pay attention!” said the palace parlormaid, Penny. “And please do not leave peppermint wrappers in the potted plants.”
“Pooh, Penny,” replied Prunella peevishly. “Who gives a piffle what you think? You are nothing but a paid servant. Plod off and get the scrub pail, and wipe up that puddle of poisonous perfume.”
If I were a maidservant and asked to attend to Princess Prunella’s duties, I would not accept the job offer even if the king and queen promised to pay me ten times the salary of a palace maid. I must admit, it would be too funny to see her tumble down the palace stairs or spill Earl Grey tea and jam on her favorite petticoat.
One day, a Wise Woman, disguised as a pauper, knocked on the palace door. As luck would have it, it was Princess Prunella herself who answered the door. The old woman asked for leftover porridge but Princess Prunella, being her usual “pruney” self, shooed the old woman away.
“Porridge and prunes and peppermints are for princesses. Poor people don’t deserve any. So get away from this palace, you pathetic peasant pauper.”
The old woman told Princess Prunella that appearances were deceptive, that Princess Prunella was not pretty inside just as the old woman was not poor. As a result of Princess Prunella’s nasty behavior, the old woman cast a spell on her that would not disappear until the princess performs three Good Deeds. You may remember a similar scene from a classic Disney film – Beauty and the Beast.
The spell cast upon Princess Prunella was nowhere near transformational as the spell cast on the Beast, but it was enough to make the princess feel devastated. This was because Princess Prunella found a purple peanut on the tip of her nose the next time she looked into her pocket mirror! Imagine the horror! Will Princess Prunella be able to get rid of the purple peanut and marry a pinheaded prince with piles of pin-money?
If you’re looking for a book to share to your students, I recommend that Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut be added to the list. English teachers and word enthusiasts, in particular, will take delight in this gem of a picturebook. Aside from a story brimming with wit and humor, Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut is filled with alliteration that is perfect not only for language learning but also for read aloud. Only a genius like Margaret Atwood could come up with such!
I started reading Lisa Graff’s A Tangle of Knots. I’m only a few pages in but I find the story a bit… magical. I am excited to learn more about people’s Talents and the mystery behind the knots.