Princess Cora and the Crocodile

cora cover

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

By Laura Amy Schlitz, Illustrated by Brian Floca

 

Published by: Candlewick (March 28, 2017)

Available in: hardcover, audible

At the time of this review this was a standalone book.

 

Disguised.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile is a lovely chapter book that masquerades as an elegant, long picture book. Truly, it could work as either, with the end result being children who are utterly delighted.

Newberry Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz writes a contemporary tale based on historical fantasy and fairy tales. The text is deft, spare, hilarious, and told with a firmly modern sensibility that keeps it from feeling like a tired old story. To wit: “The crocodile peered out from behind his claws. ‘This is what I’m telling you,’ he said.”

Like fairy tales of old, the story powers through actions and words that are usually considered too violent or inappropriate. Which makes the story smile-cracking funny. The crocodile, in trying to help the princess, torments the nanny, locks up the queen, and bites the king’s bum, finding it “the wrong kind of chewy.”

Meanwhile, the princess, while asking for help, finds a way to fix everything herself. She’s kind and lovable and naïve and, in the end, one smart cookie. Or cream puff, as used to such sweet comedy in the plot.

Not to be overshadowed by the text, Caldecott Medal winner Brian Floca’s subtle and imaginative four-color illustrations slide through every page. It’s a visual enchantment.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

 

 

Never Girls

never girls cover

Never Girls #7: A Pinch of Magic

By Kiki Thorpe, Illustrated by Jana Christy

 

Published by: RH/Disney (July 22, 2014)

Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review there were eight books in the Never Girls series, with more scheduled in the coming months.

 

Who wouldn’t want to go to Never Land?

Never Girls #7: A Pinch of Magic is based on the brilliant premise that there’s an angle to the Peter Pan story especially for girls. With a nod to Narnia, four friends have access to that mythical place through one’s closet. In Never Land, the four make friends with fairies, who provide magical adventures.

In this seventh book in the series, there’s an alternating plot that has both the real girls and their fairy counterparts baking sweet concoctions. The stories collide when the fairies are called upon to help the real girls, in the real world. It’s a smart twist: just like Pan had to have his shadow sewed on by Wendy, so our protagonists have to rescue a fairy from the freezer aisle at the grocery store. Kind of funny stuff.

Part Rainbow Magic Fairies, part Pony Pals, this fluffy version of Pan is accompanied by dreamy, soft illustrations. Artist Christy does an excellent job making clear the scale of the real-girl world and the fairy world, and keeping both a timeless quality and a contemporary ambiance.

This might not be the high art of J.M. Barrie, but as a contemporary chapter book, it’s got some serious fairy dust.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….