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Children's LiteratureThis classic story is retold against the backdrop of splendidly colorful illustrations that will impress readers of all ages. As with many "Once upon a time ..." stories, this one features a prince and a princess. The prince, hoping to marry, wants to find a real princess, but so far has had no luck. He sees princess after princess, but none seems quite right. The illustrations depicting his search show a multicultural array of princesses and clothing styles, from European to Middle Eastern to Asian. Finally, during a sudden storm one night, a young woman knocks on the palace door. She claims to be a real princess. To test her claims, the queen places a small pea underneath twenty mattresses and bids the woman goodnight. In the morning, the woman reveals that she does indeed have the delicate nature of a true princess, for she complains of tossing and turning on the lumpy mattress all night. Before long the prince and the princess are happily wed. Potential buyers should be aware that one illustration depicts the princess naked from the waste up although a strand of pearls and her long hair serve to cover her up decently. In general, the illustrations are marvelous, filled with vivid colors and exotic clothes. This book would make an excellent addition to any school library. 2004, Chronicle Books, Ages 3 to 8.
—Ramirose Attebury Wendt