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Saturday, January 1, 2011

There's a Princess in the Palace, retold by Zoe B Alley and illustrated by R W Alley. Roaring Brook, H B Fenn, 2010. $22.99 ages 7 and up

"Just as Snow White began some significant snoring,
the cottage's actual owners returned home after a long day of shopping.
The Dwarfs always found it difficult when they traveled somewhere together - there were so many of them - and they were sleepy, grumpy and hungry."

I do hope that I raved enough about their first book, There's a Wolf at the Door (Roaring Brook, 2009) that you will go right out and get this book for your favorite young reader, or your class, or your daughter, grandmother, get the picture!?!

Within a graphic-novel format, the tales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the Frog Prince and the Princess and the Pea are told with aplomb and an irreverance that will have your audience dancing in their seats. The stories are connected, as in the previous book, and have an obvious link to the traditional tales; but, they are amped up to provide fun and entertainment for a contemporary crowd and filled with exquisite humor.

It is this wordplay and crisp, cutting dialogue that brings each character to glorious life. Beginning with Cinderella we are treated to the story of a young girl, her mean stepmother, her self-centred (and ugly) stepsisters and an attempt by beleagured parents to find the perfect bride for Prince Dennis. As the musicians approach the castle, astute royal watchers will notice the two travelling mice who seem headed in the same direction. They will show up on every page, with winsome and witty remarks:

"Shouldn't the Prince love Cinderella no matter what's she wearing or who she is?
Of course, but she doesn't know that yet! The moral of the story comes at the end."

The tale takes its path from the original, with Cinderella losing her shoe, the Prince finding her in her stepmother's house, a marriage...between Dennis and Ashley (Cinderella's given one has ever asked her about it) and later, the announcement that a baby girl has been born. In the final frames we see that one witch has been left off the celebratory guest list...and she is bummed:

"Oh, there once was a baby, brand new,
Whose folks overlooked me - boo-hoo!
A spell I will cast -
And long it will last!
They'll sleep for a decade or two!"

Now you know the rest of the story...Ashley and Dennis' little princess grows up to be Sleeping Beauty! Can you believe it? Really? That is just the first of five stories that are linked through royal lineage and abundant humor. They each will have all readers begging for more.

Make it your first book of won't be sorry!

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