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Babette Cole is the zany, inspired pen and brush behind a number of wildly popular and successful children's books. In a review of The BAD Good Manners Book (Dial), Publishers Weekly hailed her as "a connoisseur of the ridiculous." Ms. Cole lives in Lincolnshire, England.
PreS-Gr 3 Princess Smartypants doesn't want to get married; she'd rather live with her pets. Commanded by her parents to find herself a husband, the Princess sets tasks for her horde of suitors. Prince Vertigo is commanded to rescue her from her crystal tower; Prince Grovel's quest is to take the Queen shopping; and so on. All of the potential husbands fail miserably as the gleeful Princess looks onuntil Prince Swashbuckle appears. He accomplishes all of the challenges with resourcefulness and a royal flourish, and is rewarded with a kiss from Her Highness. He's transformed into a gigantic warty toad. When word gets out, Princess Smartypants loses her appeal and so lives happily ever after. Truly comical watercolors in softly glowing colors complement this fairy tale parody perfectly. The Princess wears overalls; among her pets are goofy-looking dragons and other magical beasts. Clever details add to the fun; one of Prince Swashbuckle's medals features a tiny golden pig. Probably more fun for adults than children, this is still an appealing book for budding feminists. It presents a new slant on the traditional fairy tale princess in a light-handed, tongue-in-cheek manner. A refreshing alternative. Lucy Young Clem, Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library, Ind.
In both text and art, Cole's characteristic wacky humor sparks this fable about a contemporary princess who ``enjoyed being a Ms.'' and finds an ingenious method for retaining her single status. Ages 4-8. (June)