The Princess and the Pea (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

The Princess and the Pea (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

by Rachel Isadora

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When a prince sets out to find a princess to marry, he soon discovers this is not a simple task. There is no shortage of so-called princesses, but how can he tell whether or not they are what they claim to be? Then one night a great storm rages, there comes a knock on the palace gate, and the prince's life is never the same . . .


When a prince sets out to find a princess to marry, he soon discovers this is not a simple task. There is no shortage of so-called princesses, but how can he tell whether or not they are what they claim to be? Then one night a great storm rages, there comes a knock on the palace gate, and the prince's life is never the same . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Caldecott Honor artist Isadora (Ben's Trumpet) offers a visually vibrant version of this Hans Christian Andersen classic, which she sets in Africa. Created with oil paints on printed and palette paper, the stylized collage-like art features an array of rich hues and intricate patterns. The spare narrative introduces a prince who travels the world in search of a "real princess" to marry. Readers see the hopeful fellow greeting three princesses, each of whom says hello in a different African language (translated at tale's end). Alas, "there was something about each princess that was not quite right, so the prince came home again and was sad." One stormy evening a woman who claims to be a real princess arrives at the royal family's gate. After a pea is placed under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds-in a variety of cheerful fabrics-the guest climbs a ladder to the top layer. After a sleepless night, she announces that she's "black and blue all over." A festive, flower-strewn spread reveals the prince and princess marrying, after which the portentous pea is seen on display in a museum, resting atop an elephant statue's raised trunk. An innovative interpretation of a timeless tale. Ages 3-up. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Isadora has moved the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the search for a “real” princess to Africa. An African prince travels “the world,” greeting princesses in Amharic, Somali, and Swahili, but deciding that none of them are quite right. One day, back home and disappointed, he finds a princess at the gate during a storm. To discover whether she is a true princess, the queen places a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds for the princess to sleep on. The next morning, she complains about feeling something hard. Only a real princess could be so sensitive, so the prince has found his wife. What gives this simply-told version its outstanding quality is Isadora’s stunning collage work, combining patterned papers with her own oil painted prepared paper shapes. White pages need no embellishment to create backgrounds for a dazzling display of colored plants, costumes, and the double-page of the “terrible storm,” with bending palm trees and jagged black lightning. The forty layers of bedding, each with its own colors and patterns, are visually challenging, as are the fourteen neck bands of one of the other princesses. A map of Africa locating the three greeting languages is included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2
Isadora drops her simplified and humorless retelling of Andersen's tale into an African setting without adding meaningful cultural context to this story of a prince who travels the continent looking for a wife. Africa is treated as one culture except for three spreads that show individual princesses. These spreads are wordless except for a phrase: "Iska Waran," "Selam," or "Jambo, Habari." No translation is provided in the body of the book, so readers only learn on the last page that the words mean "hello" in three different languages. Awkward phrasing like "What a sight the rain and the wind had made her look" slows the pace of the story. Isadora uses oil paints on palette paper and decorative print paper to interpret the story visually and infuses her art with exuberant color and stylized figures. The prince and his entourage appear as shadowy figures that contrast dramatically with the deep reds and oranges of a setting sun. The three princesses are vividly portrayed: one is covered in body tattoos and looks menacing, another has light skin and an elegantly long neck covered in multicolored jewelry, and a third is dark and heavy. Faces exhibit paint strokes and look flat with minimal expression. One effective spread shows the "real" princess perched on top of "twenty feather beds on top of the mattresses" as she complains to the king and queen that she is "black and blue all over." An additional purchase.
—Kirsten CutlerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
This simplified retelling of Andersen's classic fairy tale is relocated from Europe to Africa, bright collages evoking the many hues of the continent. Isadora's technique is reminiscent of Eric Carle's, brightly painted papers showing vigorous brushstrokes cut and arranged against a white background mingling with printed papers in a celebration of color. For much of the narrative, the prince's search for a "real" princess is downplayed in favor of "rightness," a pleasingly contemporary angle that is lost when the last princess shows up and the tale resumes its traditional track, her sleepless night on the sabotaged mattresses revealing her real-princess sensitivity. Where this treatment goes dangerously wrong, however, is in the portrayal of the three rejected princesses who precede the mattress-princess: The first wears a series of rings that elongate her neck; the second is very dark and tattooed all over; the third is darker yet, overweight by Western standards and wears a dead fish on her head. The successful princess sports buoyant dreadlocks and physically adheres to an American norm. By thus exoticizing the rejected princesses, the tale does an enormous disservice to readers and continent alike. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)

Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Rachel Isadora began dancing at the age of eight. She trained at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet and has danced professionally. Rachel lives in New York City with her family.

Rachel Isadora has illustrated many books set in the world of dance and theater, including Opening Night, My Ballet Class, Swan Lake, The Little Match Girl, and Ben's Trumpet, which received the Caldecott Honor Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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