Picture Book Challenge Update: 94 of 120
A year later a baby boy was born to the royal couple. The child was so extraordinary and so delightful that the king and queen wanted him to have a very special name.
“How about Bob?” asked the queen.
“Bob shall he be!” replied the king.
I discovered Will and Mary Pope Osborne’s Sleeping Bobby while browsing through Logan Library’s list of fractured fairy tales. I knew it had to be part of our bimonthly feature here at GatheringBooks. Role reversal is always delightful to see in any piece of literature, in my humble opinion. It is also such a thrill in my part to post this review after Prof Tuting Hernandez’s recently published beautiful piece, Done Kissing Frogs, in our Academic Nook.
Sleeping Bobby retains the basic plot of the original. (1) A king and a queen longed for a child. (2) They were blessed with a beautiful princess, and a feast was held for her birth. (3) Everyone was invited except one fairy who turned out to be the mean one. (4) On her sixteenth birthday, the princess would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. (5) But another fairy, unable to remove the curse, changed it to sleep instead of death. (6) The king announced a royal decree to have every spinning wheel in the kingdom destroyed. (7) A curse was a curse, however, and the princess pricked her finger and fell into a deep slumber, causing the rest of the kingdom to suffer the same fate. (8) A bold prince stumbled upon the castle, found the beautiful princess, and kissed the curse away.
Variations in the Plot. The most obvious variation in Will and Mary Pope Osborne’s adaptation is the role reversal. A handsome young prince in place of Princess Aurora, and a daring young princess took the role of Prince Philip.
Other variations include:
A Dash of Social Psychology. While some readers found the story of Prince Bobby plain and boring (as seen through a few comments I’ve read in the Internet), I was genuinely amused by this picture book. It was the role reversal that did the trick for me. The thought did not cross my mind until I read Kate and the Beanstalk (review to follow), another creation of Mary Pope Osborne.
Elementary-wise, Sleeping Bobby offers a fresh alternative to the classic story of Princess Aurora that children had grown to love (a big thanks to Walt Disney for bringing it to life). On a deeper, more significant level this picture book somehow shatters overblown gender stereotypes. Most classic fairy tales follow the same pattern — a damsel in distress is rescued by a dashing prince. We seldom read about the beautiful maiden who is as fierce as a lion but as graceful as a dove.
Supported by several studies, gender roles have changed dramatically over the last half-century. Behavioral changes have also accompanied this attitude shift. Women take masculine roles and vice versa. Set during the times when huge banquets and spinning wheels were a trend, Sleeping Bobby entertains the possibility a distressed prince awaiting his savior princess — which is why I love, love, love this book. Girl power!
Much as I’d like to babble about this radical change in gender roles, I’d say we should stop here because this discussion can go on for hours. On the lighter side, it is always fun to read about curious, adventure-seeking girls such as the nameless young princess in our story.
Not that I’m biased or anything. ;D