#49 – Princess Zaara and the Enchanted Forest by Umbreen Asghar

3stars

Princess Zaara lives in a castle overlooking a magical forest her parents refuse to let her enter.  The next time her tutor falls asleep she slips off her crown and runs into the forest.  Zaara meets a Giant named Morgan and his two friends, Elvin the elf and Banji, a teddy bear creature.  They welcome Zaara with their special friendship song they like to sing.  She then meets Tiffany, a fairy, and watches as Mischievo casts spells over her new friends.  It is up to Zaara to find Mischievo, somewhere deep in the magical forest, and bring him back to her friends.

Zaara and the Enchanted Forest is a short, 30 page, picture book for children ages 6 to 8 years.  The story highlights friendship and acceptance of others.  The characters do that quickly, yet sincerely.  Princess Zaara and the Enchanted Forest works best read aloud to a child or group of children ages 4 to 6.

Zaara does not need much effort to solve her conflict in the forest and I am not sure she has changed by the end of the story, as all good characters must, yet young children will like the story and understand the message sent to them.  Anyone older than six will probably lose interest quickly.  If your child loves the Barney song, or sings with Sesame Street, they will like the friendship song and can add their own name to the song.

The writing could use a bit of editing.  There are too many commas used and used incorrectly.  This drove me nuts.  The incorrect commas are like speed bumps on a racetrack.  Trying to read, stopping often, many times for no purpose, made it difficult to enjoy the story.  The descriptors are colorful, yet also overdone and were redundant for such a short story.  This is where some editing would help.  More dialogue and some snappy lines would help the story, especially when read aloud, which the author feels is the best way for his story to be read to children.  I agree.  With a little help, it could be a GREAT read-a-loud story.

Children will love the bright illustrations that fill most pages without text.  The illustrations make this story a good size for a bedtime story.  No little heads need rise off a pillow to see the pictures.  Little girls in the princess stage (don’t we all go through that, girls?), will fall in love with Zaara.  Little boys might be more inclined to like Mischievo best, especially if he has a little sister princess.  I liked both Zaara and Mischievo, but wish Mischievo had made things a bit more difficult for Zaara and her new friends.

The story reminds me of older tales from the 1950’s.  It is a straightforward story where no one gets hurt and everything, for every character, works out well.  Princess Zaara and the Enchanted Forest is a sweet story with a happy ending.

Princess Zaara and the Enchanted Forest
Author:       Umbreen Asghar
Illustrator:  Diane Lucas
Publisher:    CreateSpace
I.S.B.N.:  978-1-4392-5075-8   paperback            978-1-4392-5075-4   e-book

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