In her latest book, Vancouver author Sheri Radford creates an unconventional fairy-tale princess who takes on the tricky task of finding her own Prince Charming.
Princess Candi has always had to manage without the benefit of parental guidance. Long ago, a wizard turned her mother into a pickle and her father into a doofus who can’t remember his daughter’s name, but refers to her vaguely as Jujube or Fudge Nougat. A practical girl who wears gumboots under her dress, loves math puzzles, and knows how to do a little research, Candi consults her old book of fairy tales for advice when her father decrees it is her duty to marry. None of the traditional prince-finding methods prove fruitful: Candi isn’t convinced by the fake dragons supposedly slain for her, and is bored by the narcissistic or slavishly devoted princes she finds as a result of kissing frogs and consulting a fairy godmother.
Frustrated, she gives up and goes to university to study math – where, of course, she finds Prince Jack, another math student, and just the guy to provide her with a happy ending.
The flippant tone of Not Just Another Princess Story may wear on some readers, though eight-year-old sophisticates will probably find it hilarious. While the idea of an independent princess who is not content to wait around for a prince to come along has been explored frequently in picture books, it is developed here into a longer story for early readers, one greatly enhanced by the illustrations of Toronto artist and animator Qin Leng. The lively absurdity of Radford’s text is well-matched by the expressive details and imaginative variety of Leng’s wonderful pictures.