The Princess's Blankets

Overview

"Haunting, mysterious paintings by Catherine Hyde form the highly unusual illustrations for Carol Ann Duffy’s new fairy tale." — INSIDE CORNWALL MAGAZINE

A young princess who can never feel warm. A worried king and queen. A stranger in black with hard gray eyes. A musician with a kind and good heart. Carol Ann Duffy’s powerful new fairy tale explores the depths of human fears, frailty, and love, complemented by a series of beautiful, atmospheric paintings by acclaimed artist ...

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Overview

"Haunting, mysterious paintings by Catherine Hyde form the highly unusual illustrations for Carol Ann Duffy’s new fairy tale." — INSIDE CORNWALL MAGAZINE

A young princess who can never feel warm. A worried king and queen. A stranger in black with hard gray eyes. A musician with a kind and good heart. Carol Ann Duffy’s powerful new fairy tale explores the depths of human fears, frailty, and love, complemented by a series of beautiful, atmospheric paintings by acclaimed artist Catherine Hyde. Compelling, lyrical, magical — this is the tale of THE PRINCESS'S BLANKETS.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—If ever a picture book deserved to be called "overwrought," it is this one. The pseudo-fairy tale centers around a princess who is always cold (which reminds us of fairy-tale princesses who never laugh and their ilk) and the king's promise of a reward for anyone who can cure her (which reminds us of too many fairy tales to count). After the customary useless attempts, a mysterious, magical stranger appears who seems more bent on destroying the princess than on saving her. He lays blankets of the ocean, forest, mountain, and earth upon her—symbolically raping the country of its livelihood and treasure in an attempt to conquer her spirit. But, hark! A kindhearted musician happens along. He falls instantly in love with the princess and charms and woos her. The blankets fall off, one by one, as she succumbs to his kisses and, well, she marries him. All of this is illustrated with sumptuous, deeply textured paintings that feature copious amounts of metal leaf, which may endear them to those who love glitter. It's all too much. And unnecessary.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Publishers Weekly
British poet laureate Duffy (The Tear Thief) tells the curiously dark fairy tale of a princess who is always cold. Her father offers any reward for her relief, “even unto half the kingdom.” Among those who arrive is a menacing stranger with “hard, gray eyes like polished stones,” who brings her a series of blankets stripped from the planet itself. The first—“the ocean's blanket”—is “woven in blues and greens and grays” and “moved over her body in clumsy, urgent waves.” Hyde paints the princess's face surrounded by an inky ocean, highlighted by silvery speckles of foam and fish tails. The stranger's gifts—blankets of forest, mountain, and earth—impoverish the world and smother the princess. Only when a humble musician appears and plays for her is the princess warmed and the earth restored. Richly told and sumptuously illustrated in haunting acrylics, it can be seen as a somber allegory of the waste of the earth's resources. But the image of the young woman who spends the story supine, waiting for a man to revive her, is disquieting. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Duffy's original fairy tale is visualized by Hyde in large, lush, impressionistic paintings touched with gold, silver, and copper foils. It is told in equally rich, descriptive prose. It concerns a young princess who is always cold despite all attempts to warm her. One day, a cold-eyed stranger arrives, declaring that he can warm her and will then take her to his home. Not wanting him to succeed, the princess tells him in succession that she is as cold as the ocean, as cold as the forest, as cold as the mountain, as cold as the earth. Each time he brings her a blanket from that place, but she is colder than ever. Meanwhile, the blankets he has brought have removed the ocean, the forest, the mountain, and the earth from the land around, leaving it desolate. In the midst of this exchange, a musician arrives and wants to help. Seeing the princess, he falls in love with her. Soon, he warms her with his music. The blankets slip off and the land returns to normal. The people are grateful, and of course, the princess and the musician are happy to be together. The illustrations are acrylic paintings on textured canvas. Except for when the face of the princess is shown peeking from the blankets, there are no representations of reality in this a visual story. The mainly dark-toned backgrounds with the integrated metallic flecks produce the strong emotional content. The illustrations run along the top or side edges of the lengthy text on one double-page spread, followed by another with no text at all. The jacket contrasts with the cover, each showing part of the princess's face and a hand. The solid red and gold endpages carry us further along this romantic voyage. Reviewer: Ken Marantz andSylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews
An original fairy tale with more style than substance tells of a princess who is always cold. Her father, in the way of fairy-tale kings, offers any reward-"even unto half of the kingdom"-to the person who can warm her, with mostly futile results. A stony-eyed stranger comes and challenges the princess to tell him how cold she is. Not wishing to have to leave with him-his chosen reward-she says she's as cold as the ocean, and he responds by throwing "the ocean's blanket" over her, then the forest's, the mountain's and the earth's, all to no avail, but he does succeed in denuding the land utterly and sending the kingdom into chaos. Hyde's textured oils go for mood rather than strict representation, surrounding the princess's white face with gold-flecked "blankets" of the appropriate oceanic, forested, mountainous and earthy colors. Predictably, a simple, loving musician warms the princess and restores her "blankets" to the land. There is little here for a child reader to hang onto; although initially beautiful, this tale is ultimately as warming as one of the stranger's blankets. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763645472
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,446,522
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 12.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Ann Duffy is a well-known writer of poetry, plays, and fiction. She has been called "the most popular living poet in Britain," and her work has won numerous awards and prizes. She lives in Manchester, England, with her daughter.

Catherine Hyde studied fine art in London and has since become a successful artist, her work having been featured in numerous exhibitions. THE PRINCESS'S BLANKETS is the first time she has interpreted a text as a series of paintings. She lives with her husband and daughters in Cornwall, England.

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