by Charlotte Guillain
Dawn Beacon, illustrator
Raintree Publishing (Capstone)
Inside Book: A simplified version of the familiar fable featuring a young poodle who has been lost in the woods then finds shelter in a palace where, by feeling a pea through many blankets, she proves that she is a real princess; AND a panda who, with help from her furry godmother, attends a ball and dances with a handsome prince; PLUS a little duckling who meets a hungry wolf in the forest while on her way to visit her grandmother.
First Sentences: Once upon a time, a king and queen lived in a fine palace. / Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful panda called Pandarella. / Once upon a time, a little duckling lived with her mother in the woods.
In The Poodle and the Pea, the King and Queen want their son, Prince Barking, to marry but he is not interested in any of the princesses that line up to meet him. Meanwhile . . . a beautiful girl has gotten herself lost in the woods, not knowing which way to travel and getting cold and tired. When she finally walks into a clearing, there is a castle not too far away. Introducing herself as Princess Poodle, she asks to stay the night. Prince Barking becomes smitten, so the servant devises a test to prove the girl is really the princess she claims to be.
Pandarella lives with her nasty stepmother and unkind stepsisters. Pandarella is more a servant than a sibling or daughter. She must to do all the household chores and wait on the others. When the Prince holds a ball, inviting all the land, Pandarella watches as the others, all gussied up, leave for the dance. Soon a “flash of light” appears bringing the Furry Godmother to Pandarella’s rescue. With magic wand in hand, Furry Godmother dresses Pandarella in a beautiful gown and glass slippers. Another swipe of her wand and a carriage appears to take Pandarella to the ball in style. There is one caveat. “Make sure you come home before the clock strikes midnight, Furry Godmother warned, but when the clock strikes twelve, Pandarella is dancing with the Prince.
In Little Red Riding Duck, Duck’s mother asks her to take a basket of food to Grandmother, who lives on the other side of the woods. Duck is strolling down the path to grandmothers when a wolf asks, ‘Where are you going with that basket of food?” He then shows Little Red Riding Duck a shortcut that takes her deeper into the woods that necessary. This gives the wolf enough time to stuff grandmother into a cupboard and then disguise himself as Little Red Riding Duck’s grandmother. The young girl immediately notices her grandmother now has bug ears, big eyes, and, uh oh, big teeth! Little Red Riding quacks loudly and runs, passing a woodcutter who comes to her rescue.
Opinion These cute retellings of The Princess and the Pea, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood are perfect for young children. All of the Animal Fairy Tales stories are very short, with only the necessary words and nothing more. Stripping all but the essentials leaves stories young children can easily grasp. I think this is a great series. The author has done a precise job of breaking down the fairy tale to its essentials. Her writing is smart, on target, and perfectly timed for young children’s attention spans.
The bright, happy illustrations beautifully complement each story. The illustrations are happy, bright renditions of each story. Ms. Beacon uses their eyes to express emotion and the effect is magical. When told it was time to marry, Prince Barking’s eyes and whole body droops, showing his sadness at the prospect of marriage. Princesses line up to meet him and Prince Barking merely yawns. Just one wave of Furry Grandmother’s wand transforms Pandarella’s tears into a bright smile. I love that the wolf towers above Little Red Riding Duck yet a small hedgehog—the woodcutter—takes the big old bad wolf down. Unlike the original version, here the wolf quickly runs away.
The Animal Fairy Tales are perfect for pre-K children. The modern twist of these old classics will enchant the children and get them interested in books at an early age. Parents will delight in watching their child become enchanted with these three stories and the two other tales (reviewed here), in the Animal Fairy Tale series. If the author/illustrator team of Charlotte Guillain and Dawn Beacon collaborate on two more tales—Emperor’s New Clothes, Jack and the Beanstalk, or Hansel and Gretel—parents will have a weeks’ worth of tales to keep bedtime happy and varied. I really like The Animal Fairy Tales Series. Each book introduces young children to well-known and classic fairy tales and should get kids excited about reading; an important goal for preschool youngsters.
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Released April 11, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4109- / 978-1-4109- / 978-1-4109-
24 Pages Ages: 6 and under .
© 2013 Raintree Publishing (imprint of Capstone Publishing), used with permission.
Text: Copyright © 2013 by Charlotte Guillain Illustrations:
Copyright © 2013 by Dawn Beacon //
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