Caryl Hart (text) & Sarah Warburton (illustrations)
Lilly-Rose May is a lovely and kind little girl who does everything her dad expects her to do. Until the day he tries to feed her peas. He tries everything, but it just won’t do, she just can’t eat them. The doctor’s diagnosis is surprising: Lilly-Rose is suffering from a severe case of Princess-itis and must at once leave to go and live in the palace, a pea-free zone. As she enters her new home, she looks forward to her new life of luxury. But will Palace life live up to her expectations? Eating peas may not be such a terrible thing after all.
Don’t be fooled by the pinkness of this wonderful new offering from Library Mice household favourite Caryl Hart. There might be a princess in there, but her “happy ever after” is not one that one might expect from a girly fairy-tale. In fact, it is quite the contrary, and it is quite refreshing to see.
Stories that rhyme are Caryl Hart’s speciality and her books are always a delight to read out loud. The Princess and the Peas is no exception:
Lily-Rose May was a sweet little girlieHer eyes were bright blue and her hair was so curly
She lived with her dad in a beautiful wood
She was kind and polite, and was usually good.
The text is teamed with Sarah Warburton’s bright and fun illustrations. The artwork is bursting with energy, and there is a very clever use of colour (notice how the illustrations centering around the dad and the family house are predominantly green, whereas anything relating to the palace is pink) and ingenious use of space in the page.
There is a particularly clever passage when the traditional Princess and the Pea is recalled: there is, literally, a book within the book and it is delivered wonderfully both via the text and the illustrations – the artwork become black, grey, white, and yellow (with a hint of green!) distinguishing the two tales.
Lily-May Rose’s dad is the star of the show: a loving supportive, dedicated, single dad. Mothers are traditionally absent from fairy-tales, and fathers are often loving but rather useless, usually under the thumb of a nasty stepmother. This contemporary version of the fairy-tale calls for a more modern dad, and it is lovely to see such a shining example.
Of course, The Princess and the Peas will talk to little fussy eaters everywhere, and parents will be hopeful that Lily-Rose May’s eventual resilience will work as a good example to pea-snubbing children. I have a feeling they will be more delighted by the fact that they make her turn slightly green. But the message is loud and clear: greens are good for you and if you refuse to eat peas, you might find yourself being served even more unsavoury vegetables.
The Princess and the Peas is a hugely entertaining story, which will be an effective cautionary tale for young readers struggling with eating their greens, but will be enjoyed by all, pea-lovers included.