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Grades 3-5--In this postmodern fractured fairy tale, a worn-out and badly beleaguered Queen is ready for retirement. After many hours of nagging, the crown prince, who "never cared much for princesses," finally caves in and agrees to wed in order to ascend the throne. Their search for a suitable bride extends far and wide, but none of the eligible princesses strikes the Prince's fancy, until Princess Madeleine shows up. The Prince is immediately smitten- with her brother, Prince Lee. The wedding is "very special," the Queen settles down on a chaise lounge in the sun, and everyone lives happily ever after. Originally published in the Netherlands, this is a commendable fledgling effort with good intentions toward its subject matter. Unfortunately, though, the book is hobbled by thin characterization and ugly artwork; the homosexual prince comes across as fragile and languid, while the dour, matronly queen is a dead ringer for England's Victoria at her aesthetic worst. Some of the details in the artwork are interesting, including the "crown kitty" performing antics in the periphery. However, that isn't enough to compensate for page after page of cluttered, disjointed, ill-conceived art. The book does present same-sex marriage as a viable, acceptable way of life within an immediately recognisable narrative form, the fairy tale. However, those looking for picture books about alternative lifestyles may want to keep looking for a barrier-breaking classic on the subject.
Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Writer and illustrator duo Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland met in art school and founded their studio in the dressing rooms of a former public swimming pool, The Papermill. (No, they don't wear flippers and goggles to work and yes, that is a lifeguard chair.) In addition to being talented artists, Linda and Stern are expert sandcastle builders. This is their first picture book.
"Indeed a book whose time has come, this is no pusillanimous bibliotherapy; it is, rather, a joyful celebration that at the same time firmly challenges the assumptions established and perpetuated by the entire canon of children's picture books. Hurrah to newcomers de Haan and Nijland and to the publisher for bringing them to an American audience." --Starred review, Kirkus Reviews "Progressive . . . inclusive . . . exuberant collage-flecked art." --San Francisco Chronicle "A great book to teach young readers about same-sex couples." --Philadelphia Gay News "[A] modern tale of happily-ever-after." --NAPRA Review