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Princess Charming

by Zibby Owens and Holly Hatam (ill.)

left to right: Zibby Owens (Credit: Zibby Owens) and Holly Hatam

When you’re a princess, it can be hard to live up to everyone’s high expectations. This is doubly true when your brother happens to be Prince Charming. Such is the premise at the heart of Princess Charming, the debut picture book from Zibby Owens, host of the Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast.

Princess is convinced that if she can “find her thing,” she will finally be the picture of perfection that is  expected of her. But no matter what she tries, from cartwheels and baking to hip hop classes and talent shows, nothing quite pans out the way she hopes. Not until a movie star attends a party at the castle, that is. When the celebrity loses a precious earring and everyone else gives up looking, Princess saves the day – and realizes that maybe her “thing” is her ability to persevere.

The story is sweet and relatable, with important themes of resilience and determination, but it’s the illustrations by Waterloo artist Holly Hatam that really make this picture book stand out. Hatam, whose portfolio includes Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandani and Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever by Ruth Spiro, packs her illustrations with gorgeous colours, interesting textures, and plenty of movement. The small photographed objects scattered throughout the pages add interest – and young readers will have fun pointing them out.

It’s important to note that, although Princess is feeling pressure from outside her home – from the townspeople, presumably – her family offers her loving support throughout the story. Her mother’s reassurances and her puppy’s companionship are critical counterpoints to the perfectionist messaging Princess struggles with.

Princess Charming has something for everyone. Children will enjoy the lighthearted story, the silly antics of Princess’s puppy, and the surprise ending, when we discover that, without Princess, Prince Charming would never have found the right fit. Parents and teachers will appreciate the themes. And everyone will appreciate the vibrant, layered illustrations. Princess Charming will sit comfortably on the shelf alongside picture books with similar themes, such as Elise Gravel’s The Cranky Ballerina and Danny Ramadan and Anna Bron’s Salma the Syrian Chef.


Reviewer: Sarah Sawler

Publisher: Flamingo Books, Viking Children’s


Price: $23.99

Page Count: 40 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-0-59332-678-7

Released: April

Issue Date: May 2022

Categories: Children and YA Fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 3–6