Format: PDF Review Copy (Hardcover available)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+
Genre: Picture Book
What did you like about the book? This story is a more modern version of the German fairy tale, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, with a little different change in the ending. In this story, a young man is travelling through a deep forest–exhausted and bitter in having to fight many battles for the king. He is so distraught that he feels he would rather die than live. While in the forest, he meets a young woman who seems to radiate life and hope. In an effort to help him, she tells him of a nearby castle and a king who is desperate to solve a mystery–so desperate that he will give over his kingdom and one of his 12 daughters to whoever solves the mystery. She explains that every night his 12 daughters are locked in their bedroom, but each morning they emerge from their bedroom tired and with completely worn shoes. She suggests he go to the castle to try and solve the mystery, but she does tell him not to eat or drink anything and she gives him an invisibility cloak to help in his investigation. He does meet the king and accepts the challenge of solving the mystery. On his first night, he is offered a glass of wine by one of the daughters. He pretends to drink and fall asleep and this is when he overhears that the drink he was given is actually poison. For three nights he pretends to drink the wine and pretends to fall asleep, but he really follows the daughters to a party where they dance all night. After three nights, he is able to solve the mystery and the daughters confess to their father, however, the young man declines the father’s offer of the kingdom and marriage to a daughter. He knows that the princesses have killed the men before him and he wishes nothing more to do with death or even with being a king and leading others into death. He would much rather spend his time with the kind woman he met in the forest for she represented life and love to him.
The illustrations in this book are provided by the amazing artist Ehsan Abdollahi who recently illustrated the book A Bottle of Happiness (which is another amazing book!). It is sometimes a challenge to describe his artwork. The images are somewhat abstract, yet clear and beautiful at the same time. His use of color and light seem to make the pages glow–especially in this story where many of the events happened in the dark of night.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? This book would be perfect for children between the ages of four and eight, especially if they enjoy fairy tales and even a story with a bit of a message.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and eight.
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: June 26, 2020