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The Twelve Dancing Princesses

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  336 ratings  ·  68 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
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 20th 2007 by Putnam Juvenile
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  336 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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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
Aug 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Gorgeous illustrations, and a nice, succinct retelling of kind of a crappy folk tale. Nothing against Isadora here - she added appealing things to a tale that was just yucky to begin with. If you're curious, my beef with this story is the ending [spoiler alert!] - the prince who follows the princesses gets to marry the oldest princess, and apparently they live happily ever after... even though this princess has been going out WITH A DIFFERENT PRINCE, OF HER OWN FREE WILL and dancing all night lo ...more
Panda Incognito
I thought that an African retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" would be really interesting, but it's just a reductionist, paint-by-numbers version of the story with African-inspired art. The author did nothing to adapt the story to a non-Western context, and the illustrations are all close-ups, without any world-building for the setting or the type of dwelling that the royal family lived in. The art style is nice, but the book doesn't work for me as a retelling at all, and the wedding at ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Category/Genre: Traditional
Copyright: 2007
Estimate Grade Level of Interest: K-3
Estimate Reading Level: Grades 3-4

Brief Description: The king wants to know where his twelve daughters go each night and rewards the man who can figure it out.

Traditional literature includes folktales which tell a direct and entertaining story that also covers an important theme. The Twelve Dancing Princesses was originally a folktale by the Brothers Grimm and is retold here by illustrator Rachel Isadora, using her un
Amy Perea
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora is about a king who had twelve daughters (princesses) that were waiting to be married. The only way the daughters could become married is if a man could discover where the princesses went to during the night. One day a soldier wanted to find out where to princesses went so he went to the king and pretended to be asleep. As he was sleeping he heard the princesses start to make their way to the secret de
Hannah Auton
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: traditional
This folktale tells of 12 princesses who, every night, each mysteriously wear their shoes out to the point where they are not wearable anymore. The king, desperate to know where his daughters sneak off to every night that wears their shoes out, offers the soldiers of the land a reward of marriage to one of his daughters to whoever can successfully find out where his daughters sneak off to. He gives them three days and if they cannot successfully tell him where they went, they are executed. One d ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Love the bright illustrations using cut paper collage and African prints.

There's no motivation for the girls going out dancing each night. They're not enchanted or bribed or forced or anything. In fact, the girls don't really have any personality at all. So, from a story standpoint, I think this one misses a lot.

The point of view is mainly from the soldier who figures out what's happening.

Love the line in the beginning about "12 beautiful daughters" with a picture showing a wide variety of appea
Correna Dillon
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a retelling of a Grimm fairytale about the rebellious princesses that sneak out and go dancing at night. The book stands out for the gorgeous illustrations of the twelve sisters. They are decked out in elaborate and colorful traditional African dress. They are all of different shades and types of hair. This book even shows off beautiful shoes and hats the girls wear. They also wear large elaborate jewelry. The book is whimsical and vibrant. A beautiful retelling of the classic fairytale.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
August 2017 - I loved this fairy tale as a kid (especially the Faerie Tale Theatre production) but it feels less successful as a story to cut down to picture book length/digestibility (the soldier just chooses a princess, which bothers me way more than, say, the violence in Hansel and Gretel). I do like Isadora's illustrations. ...more
Josh Bader
This book was neat. It gave us suspense and mystery to whom may discover the princesses hidden place where they sleep. This made me want to keep reading and figure out. During the adventure we get clarity of mystery and adventure as if we were the solider in search of the women. The ending is a great ending to this story. A must read.
Marissa Lynh
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful spin on the Brothers Grimm classic. My daughter enjoys seeing princesses that look like her. That being said it's a little dark that the princesses are poisoning the men and the king ends up killing them when they fail. The princesses never express guilt for the lives lost. ...more
Jailen Robinson
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
This is an okay book. I like that the princesses are not blonde hair, blued eyed like many think but the marriage at the end is thrown in. I understand that it is a children's story so I will have it in my classroom. ...more
Love the illustrations! The retelling of the story isn't my favorite (sometimes a little confusing), but it's fine. And it's a strange story no matter who is telling it, but that's not her fault. ...more
Andy Hickman
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” by Rachel Isadora, Jacob Grimm
Clever and engaging African adaptation of the classic story, with vivid illustrations.***
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Isadora makes beautiful artwork for picture books, so we borrow a lot of her work from the library. Unfortunately, not a fan of this traditional tale.
Tracy Ledford
Jan 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book is all about the illustrations, which are simply gorgeous. The retelling is okay for a pre-k to first grade audience, but begs for detail that matches the effort of the illustration.
Janae Ricks
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a fun and cultural book! I even got excited to find out where the princesses were going each night their King thought they were in their beds. (picture book)
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
Kathleen Dixon
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The pictures were the best part of this book. I had hope for some African flavor to be woven in the story but it was basically the same story put out by Little Golden Books in 1954. The story adds nothing new, not even sandals instead of shoes. The pictures, which looked like cut out paper layered, were really cool.
Natalie O'neill
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Esther Moss
Book title: The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Reading level: unable to find online - judging by the text, it is likely a I or J level book
Book Level: This book would appeal to students in kinder-3rd grades

Book summary: In this multicultural take on the classic Grimm's fairy tale, the father of twelve princesses puts out a challenge to all eligible suitors - whoever can solve the mystery of why and how the princesses manage to wear out their shoes each night will meet with great reward.

Genre: traditi
DyolF Dixon
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Luisa Knight
I never quite understood this tale but this version is colorful and a good length for kids.

Ages: 4 - 8

Cleanliness: mentions wine.

**Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I provide a Cleanliness Report, mentioning any objectionable content I come across so that parents and/or conscientious readers (like me) can determine beforehand whether they want to read a book or not. Content surprises are super annoying, especially when
Jun 14, 2011 rated it liked it
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
DesMonet Cooper
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a children's folklore book about 12 princesses who are locked in there chambers at night. Their father is very confused to the fact that in the morning the princesses shoes are worn out even though they should have been in their rooms. He becomes so curious that he offers their hands in marriage to the man who can figure out how the princesses are escaping each night.Many princes fail at finding out the whereabouts of the princesses at night. An old soldier uses ...more
Esther Choi
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: traditional
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
Sharia A.
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-books
Beautifully illustrated retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale in an African context.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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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

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