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The Twelve Dancing Princesses
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The Twelve Dancing Princesses

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A magic cloak. A hidden passage.

A secret underground world beyond imagining.

Night after night, the princesses mysteriously wear out their shoes. But how are they doing it? The baffled king promises a great reward to any man who can solve the mystery.

From the colorful flurry of the princesses? dressing room to a captivating nighttime scene on an underground lake, Rachel Isa
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Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 20th 2007 by Putnam Juvenile
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books about kids of colour
63rd out of 124 books — 12 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 215)
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Becky
Another blahsome retelling of a Brothers Grimm story by Rachel Isadora. These retellings have all the personality of a wet paper bag. The artwork is cool, but what about the STORY? Kids want excitement and fun, not a Wikipedia synopsis.

Two questions here as well:
1) How are these princesses able to do this every single night? They are (presumably) awake all day, doing princessly things, and then all night long they traipse through the woods, dance until their shoes are worn through, and then tr
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Natalie O'neill
This story is a version of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that has been retold and set in an African setting by Rachel Isadora. The pictures are vibrant, and I believe they would definitely appeal to children. The story is about twelve princesses who are sisters. They go to bed each night as expected, but every morning, their shoes appear to be worn as if they were dancing the night away. Their father is determined to find out where they go at night, so he challenges suitors to figure it out. He te ...more
DyolF Dixon
The Twelve Dancing Princesses as retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora. This is a German folk tale written by The Brothers Grimm. There are at least 15 similar version in other European countries. Isadora retells the story in the setting of Africa. She uses illustrations that are very colorful and lively. Isadora down-plays most of the violent in original the story.
The plot is at a level for PreK-2. This story will give the young students some prior knowledge for the reading of future litera
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earthy
Isadora's art is a gorgeous mix of bright colors and textures made with oil pastels and different kinds of paper. The text isn't anything particularly new, but setting the story in Africa works remarkably well and gives a nice twist to the story.
Kathleen Dixon
The Grimms' fairy tale of the twelve dancing princesses is a fairly simple tale, and (of course, given the time in which it was originally told) solidly based in 'women-as-chattels'. I grabbed it from the library because Zenobia is fascinated by princesses. There's no point trying to fob her off with fairies or ballerinas - only princesses will do. So, it's a good opportunity to begin feminist critique. And yes, I know she's only 5, but you're never too young to begin learning critical thinking. ...more
Tabitha Kim
We all know that classic fairy tales are timeless, but The Twelve Dancing Princesses written by The Grimm Brothers and illustrated by Rachel Isadora, portray a typical fairy tale with a sweet twist! Magic cloaks? Unknown secrets? Hidden underground worlds? Who would’ve ever thought anyone could come up with such a unique tale like that! Every night, these twelve beautiful princesses seem to wear out their shoes and when morning comes, their father (the king) is very curious as to how this can be ...more
Karen
I love these fairy tales redone by Rachel Isadora - the illustrations are fantastic! I initially purchased them just to add to our tall tale/fairy tale retellings for our jr. high library, but I like them so much, I may purchase for my home as well. While the story is very basic in the retelling, I think the illustrations and the added info most of them have adds to the appeal and worth.
Jess
Jun 17, 2011 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone who loves this story
Recommended to Jess by: browsing folktale section
The king's 12 daughters slink away each night to an unknown place. Where do they go and why do they constantly need new shoes? If you can figure that out, you've got yourself a bride.


Rachel Isadora's illustrations rock. They're full of life and color, plus it's nice seeing something other than the traditional European-ish ballgowns and castle.

The story, however, I've always had problems with. Sneaking out to go dancing in fancy outsides? Fun. Drugging the people trying to catch you even though y
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Esther Choi
The African king wants to figure out why his twelve princesses’ shoes are always worn out. He promises to give one of his daughters in marriage to whichever man can solve the mystery. One man wears a magic cloak of invisibility and follows the princesses down an underground tunnel where he finds the answer behind the mystery. This is a classic story that is retold with an African twist and the textures, patterns, and artwork really bring about a cultural experience. For upper grades, a good less ...more
Kim
A wonderful rendition of one of the Grimm Brothers stories. I loved the illustrations in this story, and how beautiful and colorful they are. Just an amazing story, and I would love to have as a mentor text for folklore in my classroom.
Andrea Campbell
My favorite part of this book is the amazing imagery. The illustrations are so wonderful and bring the book alive. I gave the book three stars because I did not love the plot of the story.
Kat
Four stars for the illustrations (which were SO cool, and reminded me a lot of Eric Carle's work), two stars for the story.
Sharia A.
This book is about a king who tries to figure out what happens to his 12 daughters after night time so he hires a soldier to help him find where his daughters go. Throughout the book, the pictures are drawn brightly and sharp. This story would be a great way a teacher can explain African culture in the class and the type of land Africa has. This book also shows different facial features and jewels that other textbook/ children books to not display. I would recommend this book to other teachers b ...more
Robert J
Wonderful story and beautifully illustrated.
Dolly
Mar 03, 2010 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Our girls like to look up books on our library's online catalogue. This weekend our oldest looked up dancing. For fun, we borrowed a couple of versions of the Brothers Grimm story, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This is a fun version of the tale, with an African theme that is mostly apparent through the illustrations, as the story is not modified much from the original. It's a shorter story overall than the other story we read and the bold, colorful illustrations are fun. We really enjoyed our l ...more
J-Lynn
A retelling of the Brother's Grimm story, this takes place in an African kingdom and is an excellent example of how fairy tales have universal stories that can apply to multiple cultures.

This would be an excellent companion read to Brothers of the Knight by Debbie Allen and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

The illustrations are bright, bold collages with various textures and depth. They bring the African countryside and royalty to life, making this more than just another retelling of an obscure fairy
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Joel
This classic Grimm brother’s tale is visually transported to Africa in this retelling. Unlike other adaptations of the Brothers Grimm's stories (see Sugar Cane below), Isadora does little to adapt the story or the text to its African locale. Instead she relies on her whimisical, brightly-colored collage illustrations to convey the setting. This is a good short introduction to this tale that makes for excellent bedtime reading. Recommended for ages 4-7.
Christy Brown
I really liked this book, the colors are so bright and the message that is written into the words. I also like the fact that the authors characters are not your average white male/female. He uses people from different backgrounds. It also brings into play differet culturs and that is a great message to our kids. I think that this would be a great book to read to my kids.
Annie
Apr 26, 2013 Annie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: K-4 grade

Every night, the twelve princesses somehow wear out their shoes. The king offers a reward to anyone who can figure out how. This is a remake of the Grimm fairytale as they bring the princesses to Africa. The unique retelling of the story will capture the readers attention. This would be a good book for children kindergarten through fourth grade.
Melanie
This is one of the most basic tellings of the Twelve Dancing Princesses I have ever seen. It's as if the author/illustrator set out to lay down the facts of the story...and nothing else. There is nothing that distinguishes this story of any other except that the illustrations are of African Peoples.
Debbie Hayes-miller
CIP summary "A retelling, set in Africa, of the story of twelve princesses who dance secretly all night long and how their secret is eventually discovered."
This book is very colorful and lively, illustrated with oil paints. This traditional story takes a twist with the African theme.
Jennifer
The artwork is lovely. The story is much reduced though, made for younger audiences. Some of the details I treasure from the original version were not included. I like how the setting is African. Isadora had a good time creating the paper she used to collage the story.
Michael
Terrible sexist story! The women are all happy but if the prince finds them he gets to marry whoever he wants! I guess this is a classic tale, so not the author's fault, but if she is retelling to empowerful African characters she could fix the moral, too, in my opinion!
Kristin King
This was a delightful telling of the sneaky princesses and the prince who learns their secret. The African textures and art work were beautifully crafted making the whole a cultural experience as well as a fun tale.
K
I just can't get enthusiastic about reading a book to my daughter where a central part of the plot is a father gives away one of his daughters in marriage as payment for a service.
Takishia Gabriel
Great book to introduce folktales to students. This book has awesome illustrations. I would use this book in upper grades; fourth and fifth graders would benefit from this book.
Tichina Fung-chung
The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a common fiary tale, but in this book the setting takes place in Africa. The llustrations in this book are very colorful and full of life.
Kelli
Wonderful story adaptation that takes place in Africa. Beautiful colors. This book is a great example of how different cultures adapt traditional stories.
Candace Carr
This is a fun book I would read to my students to show them another type of fairy tale and for students to talk about what makes the story a fairy tale.
Kristy
Even the lovely illustrations in this book cannot distract me from the fact that this is the most anti-feminist of all the Western fairy tales....
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Rachel Isadora is an award-winning children's author and illustrator. She has written children's books on multiple topics including ballet, life in America and Africa, and has illustrated several Brother Grimm tales in an African setting. She is most well-known for her Caldecott Honor Award book "Ben's Trumpet". She was a ballet dancer before she became an illustrator and children's writer.
More about Rachel Isadora...
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