The Twelve Dancing Princesses

( 3 )

Overview

The talented Brigette Barrager lavishly illustrates this beautiful retelling of the Grimm Brothers' "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." In this fairy tale, twelve princesses wake up every morning to find their shoes are worn out and they are totally exhausted! A handsome suitor discovers that the princesses are enchanted, and that each night, in their sleep, they travel to a magical world to dance at a ball. Will this handsome suitor be able to break the spell and rescue the ...
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The Twelve Dancing Princesses

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Overview

The talented Brigette Barrager lavishly illustrates this beautiful retelling of the Grimm Brothers' "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." In this fairy tale, twelve princesses wake up every morning to find their shoes are worn out and they are totally exhausted! A handsome suitor discovers that the princesses are enchanted, and that each night, in their sleep, they travel to a magical world to dance at a ball. Will this handsome suitor be able to break the spell and rescue the princesses?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Barrager brings a fittingly soigné aesthetic to this retelling, deftly balancing the story's comedy and mystery as the exhausted sisters flummox the court by day and transform into an unstoppable balletic force by night. The crisp, doll-like characterizations and glowing, softly saturated palette recall the work of Mary Blair. If anything keeps this pretty volume from claiming a permanent place on the shelf, it's editorial rather than visual: in a major departure, Barrager turns the dancing dozen into the unwitting victims of a magic spell—sleepwalkers incapable of enjoying their enchanted journey to the ballroom in the magical forest. Being damsels in distress, they need a rescuer; a humble palace cobbler who announces, "I can't let this continue," and breaks the spell with a kiss to the lead sister's hand. No longer the willing (even conniving) agents of an illicit and ecstatic nightly adventure, the dancing princesses feel merely ornamental, and one of the Grimm Brothers' most intriguing tales—at its core, a thrilling battle of wits—becomes just another happily ever after. Ages 4–8. (May)
From the Publisher
"Barrager brings a fittingly soigné aesthetic to this retelling" - Publishers Weekly

"With art resembling that of animated film and several graceful dance scenes, this story could easily be set to a sound track. ...a pleasing tale for reading aloud and storytelling" - School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
In her retelling of the Grimm classic, Barrager maintains the basic storyline of the twelve princesses who are exhausted all day because they dance all night. She substitutes a young cobbler for the soldier, leaves out the cloak of invisibility, and names each princess for a flower. Despite the changes from the Grimm's fairy tale, this edition reads well and in the illustrations the princesses float across the pages. This is intended for a younger audience than the Le Cain, Isadora, and Ray versions and succeeds through the shorter text and the digitally created, cartoon-style illustrations. By eliminating the old woman and her invisible cloak, Barrager has dropped an important element of this fairy tale—that of the hero's helper. While Pip the cobbler made a pair of very quiet shoes for himself, it is still a stretch to think that he would not wake the princesses when he followed them, particularly when he pulls the twigs from the trees. Where there is high demand for romantic stories with large-eyed princesses, and that is almost everywhere, this will more than adequately fill the bill. It is a good selection for preschoolers and early primary students looking for princess books. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—The traditional tale of the enchanted princesses who dance the night away plays out as ballet in this sprightly telling. Barrager adds a bit of detail and nuance to the familiar plot, naming the girls after blooms in the garden—Rose, Iris, Daisy, Tulip. "Each one was lovelier than the flower she was named for." The digital depictions render the girls as flat figures with large, cartoon-style eyes, but they waft lightly across the royal lawn, their petal-shaped skirts all in pretty colors. Readers quickly learn that they are a droopy, sleepy lot most of their days, and the text offers a hint of things to come in the figure of the shoemaker. He mends the royal shoes, eventually solves the mystery of the enchanted nights, and wins the hand of his favorite princess, the red-haired Poppy. "Poppy really liked Pip, too, but she just couldn't keep her eyes open long enough to say so." With art resembling that of animated film and several graceful dance scenes, this story could easily be set to a sound track. The plot is true to that told by the Grimms, and nice bits of dialogue and observations by Pip thread easily through the narrative, bringing the characters to life and offering a pleasing tale for reading aloud and storytelling.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews

The particular challenge of redoing a well-known, oft-published fairy tale is to offer a fresh or fruitful take, and this one doesn't.

Digital illustrations vary in format from spot art to full-bleed spreads, but everything from the begowned princesses to the sparkling underground land they visit each night falls flat. The princesses are named for blossoms, each one "lovelier than the flower she was named for," but their impossibly tiny waists and huge blue eyes look like a cheap, dull version of Disney. Their dance postures barely connote motion. On the page that displays the tale's premise—that "[e]very morning, without fail, the soles of the princesses' shoes were worn out and full of holes"—Barrager shows (nine) slippers that are grubby and scuffed but lack a single hole. Matching the insipid aesthetic is a text stripped of grit. No men lose their lives trying to solve the mystery before the hero (here, Pip the cobbler) does, and there are no men in the princesses' underground boats, which "float silently" of their own accord. The boats need to float of their own accord, because these princesses have neither agency nor consciousness: They're asleep from start to finish of the dancing escapades.

In addition to this mind-numbingly bland attempt to capitalize on princess fads, a Princess Matching Game is sold separately. (Picture book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pamela Paul
…[Barrager's] sumptuous drawings evoke 1950s fashion illustration, with a dash of Tim Burton thrown in…
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811876964
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 5/4/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 94,433
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Brigette Barrager graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in character animation. She inherited her mother's collection of fairy tale books as a child, and her love of those magical, fantastic, and dreamy worlds has never left her. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and this is her first book.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Good book

    This is a lovely retelling of the old story. Get the matching game to go with it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    Beautiful

    Beautiful story and pictures. All the princesses are named after a flower. My 5 year old daughter loves reading this book over and over.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2014

    Amazing

    Loved it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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