Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Princess ap-Pea-ls to me


The Princess and Pea. Child, Lauren (2006).
NY: Hyperion. ISBN: 0786838868

Lauren Child is best known for her Charlie and Lola series of picture books (and television show). Her version of the Princess and the Pea is a definite departure from these, artistically, in genre, and in style. This mixed medium work (photographs of collaged dioramas) aims for and reaches an older audience than that of her hit series. A grade 2 and up audience can appreciate the complexity present in the juxtaposition of miniature 2-dimensional characters with miniature 3-dimensional environments, and may also enjoy seeing doll house furniture used this way. Curious readers will be pleased to find the creative process detailed in the back end papers. The hybridization of styles greatly enhances the story, drawing the reader further into Child’s imaginary world. This playful and fanciful retelling of the classic fairy-tale, the Princess and the Pea maintains this fun tone from the illustrations on down to the text and even to the font, which changes periodically when it comes to a word that is key to the telling of the story. Older readers will enjoy the conversational (“You know what parents are like, and a prince’s parents are no different.”) and often comically mocking (“No, if he couldn’t marry for love, then he would rather live alone for all eternity, gazing at all the stars in the night sky. Not only was he romantic but also a little dramatic.") tone of this work. This beautiful book is for people young and older who enjoy witty dialogue and innovative eye-catching illustrations.

In related news, I totally love this picture book, and not just because I have a bit of a thang for fairy tales (in related related news, read Fables, by Bill Willingham if you are a grownup who likes fairy tales. You're welcome). Any author/illustrator who can make me laugh while reading a picture book deserves a high five. The illustrations in the Princess and the Pea are gorgeous and memorable but what really makes this book is the cheeky tone carried throughout in both prose and illustrations. Kids will dig this book, but methinks their parentals will dig it more. Lauren Child, could you please illustrate my life?

1 comment:

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