Rare is the princess picture book that I find worth reviewing here. In fact, I even find the "anti-princess" picture books not worth mentioning. However, I LOVE fairy tales and I couldn't resist reading Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups by Stephanie Clarkson, with illustrations by Brigette Barrager. Clarkson takes four well known fairy tale princesses and imagines them fed up with their lot and ready to move on and out into the world. She tells their stories in verse, a form I am (probably overly) critical of. I would rather read solid prose than clunky verse that has me pausing and pondering, slowing me down as I am reading out loud. However, Barrager has a winning illustration style (which is a bit toned down in Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups) that deserves, along with her other works, attention.
A "Once upon a time" intro tells us that there were four "fairy tale misses" who were so tired of "dwarves, witches, princes and kisses" that they "upped and left home for a fairy tale swap." While I may be overly critical of the rhyming, Clarkson does do a fantastic job linking up the fairy tales, the heroines and their discontents in Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups. Of course Snow White (adorably perky in her red cardigan) would be thrilled to swap with Rapunzel - who wouldn't choose a room of one's own over a a tiny cottage filled with sloppy, smelly dwarves?
Rapunzel, desperate to see the world gladly takes the glass slippers and pumpkin coach from a weary Cinderella. And, tired of balls, boys and dancing, Cinderella (who trips and accidentally kisses Sleeping Beauty on the cheek in doing so) gladly slips into Beauty's cozy, warm bed. Without much explanation, the story reverses itself, with Sleeping Beauty heading back to her castle and so on. Each character finds her way back to her proper home and a way to solver her problems. Cinderella even goes to college where she meets a "regular guy - less well off but well read."
Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups is not really a girl power retelling of the fairy tales, but it is fun for anyone (young or old) who loves these familiar fairy tales. Don't over think it, just go with it!
Other books & games by Brigette Barrager:
The Twelve Dancing Princesses, the Princess Matching Game and the Princess ABC are all published by Chronicle Books
And, in August of 2014 Uni the Unicorn, written by the fantastic Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Brigette Barrager was published. Interestingly enough, Uni the Unicorn was published right around the same time as Dan Santat's utterly charming The Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend. Both books take the perspective of the imaginary creature/friend, both of which are desperate for a kid-sized-soulmate. The illustration styles are markedly different, but equally lush and colorful. For some reason, even though I adored it, I never got around to reviewing The Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend. However you can read a great review (that also features a really great, easy craft that kids WILL love) at This Picture Book Life by clicking HERE.
Source: Review Copy