The Princess Knight

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Cornelia Funke, author of the international best-seller THE THIEF LORD, makes her brilliant debut as a picture-book writer with this winning tale of a young princess's adventure!

Violet is a young princess who wishes she could show the world that she is just as brave and strong as her brothers. But her strict father insists that she get married, and her brothers only mock her when she wants to be included in their fun. So Violet decides to use her intelligence and bravery to ...

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Overview


Cornelia Funke, author of the international best-seller THE THIEF LORD, makes her brilliant debut as a picture-book writer with this winning tale of a young princess's adventure!

Violet is a young princess who wishes she could show the world that she is just as brave and strong as her brothers. But her strict father insists that she get married, and her brothers only mock her when she wants to be included in their fun. So Violet decides to use her intelligence and bravery to show everyone--once and for all--what she's made of. Disguising herself as a boy, Violet takes part in a knights' jousting tournament. When she wins the contest, she reveals her true identity--and wins the prize of freedom!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
World-acclaimed novelist Cornelia Funke strikes a winning blow for girl power in this royally fabulous, inspiring picture book illustrated by Kerstin Meyer.

Although Princess Violetta is the youngest of the king's four children -- and the only girl -- she certainly has her work cut out for her. Raised to master the same skills as her brothers, Violetta endures taunts from her siblings about her lack of strength with swords, her inability to make horses obey, and other qualities detrimental to superior jousting. Discouraged but not defeated, the princess valiantly undergoes serious training and ends up the best jouster of all; but unfortunately, her troubles continue when the king decides to hold a jousting tournament in her honor - offering Violetta's hand in marriage as the prize. What will Violetta do? The clever princess comes up with an ingenious plan to live happily ever after -- on her terms.

Eat your heart out, Gloria Steinem: Princess Violetta knows all about equal rights! Funke's princess knight takes no guff from anyone and has the gumption to determine her own destiny. Kerstin Meyer's charming, kid-friendly illustrations convey Violetta's predicament wonderfully, making the book an amusing entertainment as well as a spirited parable about resourcefulness and self-determination. A sure-handed and sweet fairy tale for the modern gal. Shana Taylor

From the Publisher

School Library Journal
(March 1, 2004; 0-439-53630-8)

PreS-Gr 2-King Wilfred teaches his daughter the same knightly skills he has taught his three sons. Mocked by her brothers for being smaller and weaker, Violetta grows more determined to succeed. She creeps out at night to practice her sword fighting and horseback riding. With perseverance, the "nimble and quick" Princess becomes an expert jouster. In honor of her 16th birthday, the king announces a tournament with the victory prize being her hand in marriage. Outraged and appalled, Violetta cries: "You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit? Just look at your own knights! They whip their horses and they can't even write their own names!" Taking matters into her own hands, she disguises herself in armor and poses as "Sir No-Name." After defeating the other contenders, she reveals her true identity and chooses her prize-independence. Meyer's ink-and-watercolor illustrations run across the pages in panels and were inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. Children will pore over the medieval details. Pair this spirited tale with Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess (Turtleback, 1980) for a discussion of gender stereotypes.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Booklist
(February 1, 2004; 0-439-53630-8)

PreS-Gr. 2. The author of The Thief Lord (2002) follows up her second novel, Inkheart BKL S 1 03, with a picture book that will instantly begin appearing on "Strong Girl Protagonist" book lists. Happily, this is so well done that it's likely to win over children who normally prefer their princesses without the revisionist twist. Raised by a widowed king, Princess Violetta is put through the same paces (swordplay, riding, jousting) as her older, brawnier brothers. Her practice pays off when her father holds a tournament--with Violetta as the grand prize--and she handily scuttles his plans. Bell translates Funke's story from the German with aplomb ("You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit?"), and Meyer's effervescent line-and-watercolor artwork, as funny as it is lovely, stretches across each spread in horizontal strips--a droll homage to the Bayeux Tapestry. This jaunty parable offers children an endearing, indomitable character along with a lesson in girl power. For a gently feminist storytime, pair it with other tales of assertive princesses, such as that oldie but goodie, Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess (1980), oratherine Paterson's Theing's Equal (1992), for somewhat older children. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
STARRED (January 26, 2004; 0-439-53630-8)

Funke (The Thief Lord; Inkheart) handles the picture book form just as deftly as her novels, with sure-footed pacing and a well-placed thrust through the cardboard princess stereotype. Violetta's widowed father King Wilfred has some confused ideas about gender; he insists she learn to joust with her three brothers. At first, she can hardly lift a sword, but after much clandestine practice, Violetta can outride and outfight all her siblings. However, when she turns 16, the king arranges a tournament and says Violetta must marry the winner. "What!" she protests, "You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit?" Her father locks her up for her impertinence. Her youngest brother assures Violetta that he'll win and save her, but she demurs: "Thank you... but I think I'd better just see to it myself." Funke delivers a surprise ending that confirms her wit and her feminist leanings. German artist Meyer's friendly-looking ink-and-wash figures loiter, gallop, shout, and don and doff armor in Bayeaux-style tapestry panels that stretch across the spreads. The artist infuses the early drawings with just enough humor for readers to retain their sympathy for the buffoon-like brothers until they can redeem themselves through their later action

From The Critics
Fairy-tale princesses are a notoriously passive bunch, but not Princess Violetta. Her father, although enlightened enough to encourage her to learn jousting, promises her hand in marriage to the victor of a tournament. Never fear: Violetta's skill and smarts lead to a surprise ending unimagined by the Brothers Grimm but utterly satisfying to any modern-day princess. (Ages 4 to 6)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
Funke (The Thief Lord; Inkheart) handles the picture book form just as deftly as her novels, with sure-footed pacing and a well-placed thrust through the cardboard princess stereotype. Violetta's widowed father King Wilfred has some confused ideas about gender; he insists she learn to joust with her three brothers. At first, she can hardly lift a sword, but after much clandestine practice, Violetta can outride and outfight all her siblings. However, when she turns 16, the king arranges a tournament and says Violetta must marry the winner. "What!" she protests, "You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit?" Her father locks her up for her impertinence. Her youngest brother assures Violetta that he'll win and save her, but she demurs: "Thank you... but I think I'd better just see to it myself." Funke delivers a surprise ending that confirms her wit and her feminist leanings. German artist Meyer's friendly-looking ink-and-wash figures loiter, gallop, shout, and don and doff armor in Bayeaux-style tapestry panels that stretch across the spreads. The artist infuses the early drawings with just enough humor for readers to retain their sympathy for the buffoon-like brothers until they can redeem themselves through their later actions. Violetta's intelligence and perseverance shine through from first to last. Despite the fairy-tale surroundings, the heroine earns her triumph with believable determination, and readers young and old will root for her from start to finish. Ages 4-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Princess Violetta's mother died when she was born, so the king decided to raise her as he was raising his three older sons. Violetta tried valiantly to master the skills of holding a sword properly, riding a horse, and cutting the heads off dummies. Her older brothers cruelly laughed at her attempts to do what they did so well. The heavy armor weighted her down and her small size was a detriment, but she refused to give up and study embroidery or weaving. She decided she needed more practice. She slipped out at night and eventually became so nimble and quick that she won her bothers' admiration. Then just before her sixteenth birthday her father told her that she was to be the prize in a jousting tournament. Violetta was dismayed. The king was amazed when Sir No-Name defeated all the other knights and rode over to claim victory. Violetta chose her own prize. She chose to be herself and make her own decisions. She did some traveling, had some adventures, and eventually married the man of her choice, the rose gardener's son. Small illustrations in pastel tones make this a good book for sharing with individual children or in small groups. Translated from the German, this tale will enchant young girls everywhere. 2003 (orig. 2001), The Chicken House/Scholastic, Ages 5 to 8.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-King Wilfred teaches his daughter the same knightly skills he has taught his three sons. Mocked by her brothers for being smaller and weaker, Violetta grows more determined to succeed. She creeps out at night to practice her sword fighting and horseback riding. With perseverance, the "nimble and quick" Princess becomes an expert jouster. In honor of her 16th birthday, the king announces a tournament with the victory prize being her hand in marriage. Outraged and appalled, Violetta cries: "You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit? Just look at your own knights! They whip their horses and they can't even write their own names!" Taking matters into her own hands, she disguises herself in armor and poses as "Sir No-Name." After defeating the other contenders, she reveals her true identity and chooses her prize-independence. Meyer's ink-and-watercolor illustrations run across the pages in panels and were inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. Children will pore over the medieval details. Pair this spirited tale with Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess (Turtleback, 1980) for a discussion of gender stereotypes.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After training his three sons in the manly arts of jousting, sword-fighting, and giving orders, the King decides to treat his young (motherless) daughter the same way. Violetta's brothers tease her because she's little and laugh as she struggles to mount her horse while wearing heavy armor. Determined, she practices at night until she is better than her brothers, who stop calling her Itsy-Bitsy Little Vi. For her 16th birthday, the King holds a jousting tournament, offering Vi's hand in marriage to the winner. Vowing not to marry a dimwit in a tin suit, she disguises herself as Sir No-Name and defeats all the knights, declaring she will only marry one who can defeat her. Years later, she does marry-but not the expected knight. Horizontal illustration strips whimsically generate the action in soft colors against white backgrounds. The feisty heroine proves that determination can be mightier than the sword. Droll fun. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439536301
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.96 (w) x 11.35 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke is the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, and the Inkheart trilogy, along with many other chapter and picture books for younger readers. She lives in Los Angeles, California, in a house filled with books.

Kerstin Meyer is the award-winning illustrator of Pirate Girl and The Princess Knight, a story of young Princess Violetta who wants to be treated by her older brothers who are training to be knights. Kerstin lives in Hamburg, Germany.

Biography

One of the most successful children's authors of our day, multi-award-winner Cornelia Funke started out as a social worker focused on the needs of disadvantaged youngsters. She enrolled in a post-graduate course at the Hamburg State College of Design, and left social work in the mid-1980s to begin a career as a children's book illustrator. However, the books she was commissioned to work on were prosaic and unimaginative, and she soon decided to try her hand at writing stories of her own.

An ardent fan of such childhood classics as Tolkien's Ring Trilogy and the tales of C. S. Lewis and J. M. Barrie, Funke was naturally drawn to the world of fantasy. She explained her attraction in a 2006 interview with the genre blog Writer Unboxed: " [T]he wonderful thing about fantasy is that it is the oldest way of story telling -- to clad what we feel and fear into disguises and make them more clear, to pass the borders of our every day life and use our imagination for travels into unknown worlds and unlimited experiences."

Although Funke was an immediate success in her native Germany, she was largely unknown outside Europe -- that is, until a young bilingual fan wrote to a British publishing firm inquiring why her favorite author's books were not available in English. The publisher hunted down what was, at the time, Funke's most recent book (The Thief Lord) and, in 2002, published it in translation. Already the recipient of several literary honors in Europe, the engaging YA fantasy went on to win the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year Award.

One by one, as they are translated into English and published in America, Funke's wonderful stories have become huge bestsellers. Her ingenuity, imagination, and artistry shine in stand-alone novels like Dragon Rider and the Inkworld Trilogy -- Inkheart (2003), Inkspell (2005), and Inkdeath (2008). She has also produced picture books for younger readers, including The Wildest Brother, Pirate Girl, and Princess Knight. Fans who worry that this natural-born storyteller will run out of ideas can take solace in an author interview conducted in 2008 by Britain's Daily Telegraph. Asked if she had many more books in mind, Funke replied, "Oh yes, I am quite sure I won't be able to write them all down in a lifetime."

Good To Know

  • In German, Funke means "spark."

  • In 2005, Time magazine named Cornelia Funke among its "100 Most Influential Men and Women."

  • Funke claims to have written her popular Ghosthunters series "for boys who don't like to read."

  • When asked if she writes in German or English, Funke replied in a 2008 interview in The Washington Post: "I write in German. I've practiced this language for 47 years. I will never be a master in any other language. Anthea Bell, an old lady with cats, does the translation. She's amazing, and her translations are very, very true to my language."

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        Los Angeles, CA
      1. Date of Birth:
        December 10, 1958
      2. Place of Birth:
        Dorsten, Germany
      1. Education:
        University of Hamburg

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 5 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
    • Posted October 2, 2009

      Great alternative to typical princess stories.

      We found this book at the library, and now will buy it. My daughter and I both love this book, although at 2 1/2 she doesn't understand all the concepts and details of the story. She loves princesses and I'm glad to have a story that shows a strong, assertive princess who over comes her problems on her own merit. There is a message for older readers too about being true to yourself and taking control of your own life and direction.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 15, 2010

      Excellent book for young girls!

      I enjoyed some of Funke's other books and thought this one would be a good story for my daughter. Well it turned out to be an excellent one! Its basically about a young princess who grows up with a father and brothers who focus on all things knightly. Since the princess is a girl, she wouldn't possibly be any good. Well she shows them! The writing is a perfect blend of enough detail to flush the story without being too long that it can't be read at bedtime. The book touches on many points of discussion to help a young girl with her self confidence and recognizing her strengths. The idea that perceived weaknesses or disadvantages can actually be strengths is a wonderful lesson. The ending also reinforces the idea of feminine independence. All in all, its a wonderful read to share with your young daughters. Its one that we've reread many times.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 6, 2007

      A Sensitive Plotline For Preschoolers

      I was tired of the 'damsel in distress' version of women in the Middle Ages. The title Princess Knight intrigued me. The synopsis of the story made me order the book. What the synopsis DIDN'T say was the reason the princess wanted to become a knight: her mother had died in childbirth and so she had been raised by the king and her brothers and only knew that side of royal life. The rest of the story is delightful---especially when the princess fights for herself in the tournament, but death in childbirth is not something I want to deal with in nursery school, and the plotline is too interwoven to read around it.

      0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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      Posted April 18, 2012

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      Posted September 6, 2012

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