The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski, 272 pp, RL 3

The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowsk
Published by RH Graphic
Purchased at Barnes & Noble

I am SO excited to finally be reviewing a title from this new imprint dedicated to "a graphic novel on every bookshelf" because it is headed by Gina Gagliano, a powerhouse in the comics industry known as a "force for good when it comes to making sequential storytelling accessible, exciting and interesting." A fellow Reedie, Gagliano spent over ten years running the publicity and marketing and eventually designing the publishing strategy for my favorite publisher of graphic novels, FirstSecond. I received a digital review copy of The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski, but I needed to hold this book in my hands and am very glad I bought it. Everything about the design of this book - from the raised lettering on the covers to the quality of the paper and the vibrancy of the art, this book is everything I would expect from a publishing director Gagliano and the team she has assembled. I can't wait to read the rest of the Spring 2020 titles!
Troïanowski's gorgeous graphic novel is as vibrant and colorful as Robin, the runaway princess of the title. Divided into three adventures, the story begins when Robin sneaks out of the castle to go to the Aquatic Carnival in Noor, the Water City. Approached by a wolf, Robin escapes when the narrator asks readers to "close the book, shake it up and down three times, and then turn to the next page," to help the wolf's clutches. Troïanowski drops these interactive moments into the story with perfect timing, adding to the excitement and enjoyment of the princess's plight. Other interactive moments include shouting the name of a character to break a mermaid's spell, finding a path through a maze, using numbered passageways to help the queen (who can fly) find her daughter and finding the pattern in a pond full of colorful lily pads in order to safely cross. 
In the forest, Robin meets up with four brothers who have been left by their parents, Hansel and Gretel style. The gang has adventures that are colorful explosions of imagination and humor. Robin is kidnapped and helps write her own ransom note, the brothers are trapped in a web inhabited by pin cushion spiders with multiple button eyes. Every city, neighborhood and house Robin and her friends visit (willingly or unwillingly) is intricately crammed with details, and all the flora and fauna come in kaleidoscopic colors. The various locales (maps included) from the forest to the ocean to exotic ruins and mysterious islands are equally intriguing. The Runaway Princess is an absolutely delightful, interactive book that readers will read over and over.

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