By Diane Mae Robinson
Samantha Kickingbird, illustrator
Back Cover: Sir Princess Petra has already proven she is a kind and noble knight. This, however, does not please the king and queen—they want her to behave like a princess and forget this silly knight nonsense of hers! But when the king writes a new rule in the royal rule book that requires her to attend Talent School and acquire a princess talent certificate or suffer the spell of the royal magician, Petra, reluctantly, agrees to go. But who could have guessed what Sir Princess Petra’s Talent would be?
Opening: Over the last several months, Longstride Castle had become quite accustomed to having the only Princess Knight, well, the only knight actually, in the lands of Pen Pieyu. The king and queen held many parties in Petra’s honor, and royals and peasants alike acknowledged the Princess Knight’s kindness and bravery . . .
About the Story: Princess Petra became a knight in book 1, much to her parent’s discontent. Now the king has thrown another curveball, He wrote another new rule in the royal rulebook designed to get Petra acting like a princess not a knight, a distinctly male occupation (though not one male in any of the kingdoms in Pen Pieyu could pass muster—for the job). Now, Sir Princess Petra must go to Talent School and learn a talent befitting a princess. King Longstride even makes sure Petra takes one of the talent classes the royal couple would like her to take.
Petra and her trusty steed Snarls, the new chef at the castle, go to Talent School, but not before running into a roadblock and then the school’s only instructor. King Asterman tries pushing Petra into every talent but the one she wants. On the way home, with a new friend in tow, the princess knight and her steed visit the Land of the Vast Wilderness, which contains several surprises for both Petra and the occupants of this strange land. The king and queen will not be pleased.
What I Thought: I enjoyed this second edition of Sir Princess Petra and Snarls. There are many oddball characters, some silly situations, and a pair of determined parents. Attempts to control a strong-headed, yet kind and caring almost ten-year-old royal brings about goofy humor kids will like. Petra is a great role model for girls. She is determined to be herself, even if that means knocking down the kingdom’s patriarchal system and displease her equally determined parents.
I love Prince Duce Crablips and his girl worries. Nearing ten-years-old, Prince Duce is not ready to settle down or begin a six to eight year engagement. Petra has no idea Prince Duce even exists, let alone that he is her betrothed. Talent School is a disaster, considering the last of the donkeys have fled and King Asterman must run the school and teach the classes. I love reversal of traditional male/female roles, especially the humor that goes with this.
The illustrations are in black & white. The line sketches add substance to the story with characters much like those the reader will envision (at least this reader). Sir Princess Petra’s Talent, like the book before this, is a good choice for reluctant readers. The chapters are short and the story can be read in one sitting or in ten days at one chapter a day. It is also a great bedtime story for these same reasons. Beginning readers may need a little help, but will be on their way soon enough with the easy text.
Sir Princess Petra’s Talent could have spent more time on Petra pursuing her talent. I thought those scenes were too few considering it is the main topic of the second book. I thought Petra earned her certificate too easily and would have liked longer, more developed scenes. We learn little about the school and Snarls’ antics. One thing that confused me is the statement that Petra is the only knight in the lands of Pen Pieyu. Prince Crablips is called a strange knight . . . armour in different . . . his helmet was a weird . . . Is Duce a Knightly Prince or just a prince who wears knight’s armor?
Overall, I enjoyed the story and the story-within-the-story. The new characters had just the right quirks. Sir Princess Petra’s Talent is a great book for girls but boys will like Petra. She is what years from her time is called a tomboy. Boys her age (8-10), like girls who are not girly. The story is also a good choice for teachers that read a chapter at a time to their students. Each chapter has points worth discussing. Petra explains to King Asterman the different forms of poetry (ballad, sonnet, limerick), but gets cut-off. My favorite possible discussion point:
What is a story? somebody (in the kingdom), finally asked.
Petra answered . . . Stories tell a tale worth remembering . . .
If they do, Sir Princess Petra’s Talent is a story worth remembering.
Released September 24, 2013
Age 7 to 9
© 2013 by Tate Publishing, used with permission
Text copyright © 2013 by Diane Mae Robinson
Illustrations © 2013 by Samantha Kickingbird
Diane has a journalism diploma from the Schools of Montreal and an advanced diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature. The author teaches acrylic and watercolor art to children, and is an instructor at the Creative Writing Institute. She also works full time at a dental office
The author’s first book in this series, Sir Princess Petra – The Pen Pieyu Adventures, has won two prestigious awards: Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award (literary arts) and a Purple Dragonfly Book Award. The book is short-listed for two other awards.
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