by Tony Wilson
Sue deGennaro, illustrator
Inside Jacket: All the princesses who want to marry Prince Henrik are beautiful and sensitive. Too sensitive. They complain about everything. “If these are real princesses,” Henrik says, “I want to marry the opposite.” Determined to find someone less delicate, the frustrated prince comes up with a new twist on a time-honored test. Instead of a stack of mattresses and a single pea, his plan involves a camping mattress, an old sleeping bag, and a whole packet of frozen peas. But it is not always easy to find the perfect princess, even when she’s right under your nose . . .
“Once upon a time there was a prince called Henrik . . . yes, Prince Henrik; he was the athletic-type who liked camping, and field hockey. His brother, Prince Hans, gives Prince Henrik advice on choosing his princess. “The most important thing is to make sure she is a real princess.” By this, he meant she must be a complainer. Oh, and beautiful and very sensitive, but complainer was at the top of his list. Prince Hans has, uh, he had, a test that helped him find his princess. He stacked twenty mattresses and twenty eiderdown quilts on top one single pea. His wife, Princess Eva, complained about feeling that single pea through all twenty mattresses and each-and-every one of the twenty eiderdown quilts. That is indeed sensitive.
Princess Henrik thought Princess Eva a little too sensitive, which caused him to decide he did not want to marry a real princess. He wanted the opposite. She needed to like camping and hockey and have a nice smile. Nothing more matter to the Prince. Prince Henrik devised his own princess test. Instead of all those mattresses and eiderdown quilts, he used a thin camping mattress and an old sleeping bag. Instead of a single pea, he used a bag of frozen peas. Many prospective princesses spent the night, but by early morning, all were complaining about the lumpy bag of frozen peas.
Prince Henrik had a field hockey friend, a girl named Pippa, and the two spent the day playing a variety of athletic games. They had always gotten along great doing all sorts of outdoorsy things. That night, like all the other girls who spent the night, Pippa, slept on a thin camping mattress, in an old sleeping bag, atop a frozen bag of peas. The next morning, Prince Henrik waited for Pippa . . ., waited . . ., and waited . . .
This is a humorous re-make of The Princess and the Pea. I like the unconventional Prince Henrik. He sends a wonderful message to little girls. Beauty is fine, but a great attitude is better. Being compatible is better. A great smile is better. It is okay for girls to be athletic, to play hockey, and compete with others. Princesses do not need to be frilly and dresses from head to toe in pink. Sometimes tennis shoes, sportswear, and getting dirty are perfect . . . even to a Prince.
The illustrations are “collage, gouache, and pencil” art with perspectives that are often odd, such as Pippa’s triangularly shaped head and the page with Henrik laying in his proportionally strange bed. There is rich detail in each spread. Prince Henrik sleeps with his hockey trophies, the walls are lined with patterned wallpaper, and Princess Eva wears a duck on her head to play tennis—a reminder to duck? I love the maid that keeps showing up to sweep the loose peas, after each girl has awakened. The illustrations add to the quirky tale of the unconventional Prince who, I am positive, lived happier ever after than his brother Prince Hans (and his “real” princess, the complainer Eva).
Little girls will love this book because it is a story about a prince in search of a princess. After reading it, I hope little girls, and big girls, love the story because Prince Henrik re-defines what it means to be a princess. Boys will also like this book thanks to the athletic Prince Henrik and the silly, silly girls who could not sleep one night with a bag of frozen peas underneath them. I really like the humorous The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas. Mr. Wilson has taken an iconic tale and flipped it on its head, giving little girls a story they can dream about without losing their own identities. Prince Henrik . . . I love you!
by Tony Wilson website Sue deGennaro, illustrator website Peachtree Publishers website Released on April 1, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-56145-635-2 32 pages Ages 4 to 8
Copyright © 2012 by Peachtree Publishers, used with permission Text: copyright © 2009 by Tony Wilson Illustrations: copyright © 2009 by Sue deGennaro