Monday, 1 July 2013

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Cornelius van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

When Rosie picked up Princess Grace in the library I inwardly sighed because it was another pink and sparkly title and I'm really trying to give her a good mixture of influences. But when we read it together I was pleasantly surprised.
It's the story of a girl called Grace who loves stories about princesses and then acting them out (pretty similar to Rosie really). Then one day at school they're told they are going to have a float in a parade to raise money for charity and two of the children will be chosen to be princesses. Grace starts to research what princess costume she might wear and the more she looks into it the more she realises that the life of a fairytale princess is really quite dull. So she asks her teacher for stories of more exciting princess and her teacher comes back with some great examples of warrior princesses and countries different variations of traditional fairytales such as Cinderella. Grace decides she would like to dress up as more exciting princess and her Nana offers to make it out of the Kente cloth that she has bought back from The Gambia.

The interjections of Grace's Nana and Ma throughout the story are very nicely done. Particularly Nana's 'There's more than one way to be pretty' which Grace later repeats when they ask if she's sure she wants her costume to be made out of the Kente cloth.

I don't usually prefer illustrations that look real (apart from Shirley Hughes) but I've really warmed to the artwork in this book and think some of the expressions captured are lovely. The cover is pink and sparkly as I mentioned and it's totally what made Rosie pick it up so I guess it works!

The character Grace stars in a series of books. The first one was called 'Amazing Grace' and was commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal. We're going to look out for that one next! Mary Hoffman also wrote an article for the Guardian explaining her reasons behind writing what a first glance seems to be another pink and sparkly book for girls. She has my heartfelt thanks!

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