This 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
K-Gr 3-Two competent retellings of classic fairy tales are presented in an attractive format. In both volumes, a page of text appears opposite a colorful pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoon. The artists' styles, however, are very different. In The Ugly Duckling, the art has strong black outlines and a pale, understated palette. Unfortunately, the swan of the end of the story does not look significantly different from the duckling in his ugly phase. The paintings for The Princess and the Pea are detailed and bright. Especially effective is the drenched look of the pictures of the rainstorm, with the opulent colors bleeding just slightly. The Spanish translations reflect the English-accurate as to plot but lacking Hans Christian Andersen's distinctive voice. While not as informed as other versions using a more authentic or traditional translation, such as Anthea Bell's translation of The Princess and the Pea (S & S, 1991) or Patricia McKissack's El patito feo/The Ugly Little Duck (Children's, 1989; o.p.), these stylish adaptations are excellent introductions to a classic author for ELL programs and libraries that serve significant Hispanic populations. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.