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La Princesa and the Pea

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The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling, winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration.

El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.

The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .

Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published September 5, 2017

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About the author

Susan Middleton Elya

29 books34 followers
Susan Middleton Elya is the author of many books that cleverly incorporate Spanish vocabulary into lively verse. She is originally from Iowa and now lives in Northern California.

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5 stars
626 (42%)
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625 (42%)
3 stars
205 (13%)
2 stars
26 (1%)
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5 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews
Profile Image for Tina Haigler.
288 reviews98 followers
October 18, 2021
Honestly I loved this! I've never really cared about The Princess and the Pea story myself, but this one is just precious! It's a rhyming version, with a decent amount of Spanish words scattered throughout. The rhythm was fantastic, at times rhyming English with English, or English with Spanish, and my favorite, Spanish with Spanish. A list of the Spanish words, with pronunciation and translation, are listed in a glossary at the front of the book. They are also printed in a different font using red ink, making them easy to spot on the page. The art is simply adorable--done in colored pencil and watercolor--with tons of color and wonderful facial expressions. I especially love the unibrow on the queen; it really makes her character pop. I highly recommend this for all ages, and I think it would make a great addition to any child's bookshelf.
Profile Image for Jillian Heise.
2,272 reviews481 followers
June 18, 2017
Loved this author/illustrator team's first book, La Madre Goose, and I adore this new bilingual fractured fairy tale. Fun retelling with a twist, with Spanish words sprinkled throughout, told in rhyming verse. Martinez-Neal's illustrations are stunning and charming, and I appreciated her illustrator's note at the end about the inspiration for the style of the textiles from two specific indigenous groups in Peru!
Profile Image for Edie.
465 reviews13 followers
July 11, 2017
A new twist on the well known story thanks to a determined and sneaky la príncipe . The illustrations inspired by the textiles of the indigenous peoples of Peru also add "heft" to this version. The colors are bright and rich, lots of deep reds in the cloths and on faces (sometimes with shyness and sometimes with strong feelings....see la r reina. There is a natural flow to the rhyme which adds to the attractiveness of this version and the spanish words liberally used throughout the telling are easy to understand because of the illustrations and textual clues, without needed to reference the glossary so conveniently placed at the beginning of the story rather than at the end. Charming, original, celebratory.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,088 reviews181 followers
February 27, 2019
Author Susan Middleton Elya and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal, who also collaborated on La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for Los Niños , join forces here to present a Spanish-infused Latino version of the classic Danish fairy-tale from Hans Christian Andersen, The Princess and the Pea . The rhyming text follows along as a queen plots against any prospective bride in which her son might become interested. When she gives the young woman who has caught the prince's eye a special test, he decides to take a hand in matters...

I am generally quite wary of cultural revisionism, when it comes to the retelling of traditional and classic tales. I often feel that unless there is some specific reason for the change - some theme from the original that speaks to something in the new version's culture, for instance - than the changes are problematic, arising either from a lack of cultural respect, or from a mistaken notion that folk and fairy-tales need to be made multicultural, when they already are. Of course, folklore travels between cultures organically, so it's a tricky question. In any case, although I don't really see the need for a Latino version of The Princess and the Pea - I'd much rather see Latino and Latin American folktales, which are grossly under-represented in American children's literature, get some exposure - I actually really enjoyed La Princesa and the Pea. It isn't a bilingual book, as some reviewers claim, but it uses quite a bit of Spanish, with these words glossed at the front of the book, rather than the rear. The story is told in rhyming text, and is entertaining, while the artwork, done by Martinez-Neal in acrylics, colored pencil and graphite, is adorable. This illustrator was awarded a Caldecott Honor for her recent Alma and How She Got Her Name , but I actually think that the artwork here, inspired (according to Martinez-Neal's afterword) by the traditional weaving art of the indigenous people of Peru, is far superior. I can certainly see why it was chosen for a Pura Belpre Award! Recommended to fans of this illustrator, and to anyone looking for revisionist fairy-tale retellings with a Latino twist.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews103 followers
October 29, 2017
A Peruvian twist on the classic fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea, this picture book incorporates Spanish words into the story. El principe wanted a wife but his mother was very selective. When a maiden riding past caught the prince’s eye, his mother devised a sneaky test of a pea and a pile of mattresses. But this twist on the tale has one additional surprise for readers familiar with the tale: a prince with a mind of his own! The text of this book is simple and filled with touches of Spanish that keep the book firmly grounded in Peru. The illustrations do the same with traditional outfits and bright colors that blaze against the subtle backgrounds. A great pick to share with children who will love the twist at the end. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,588 reviews36 followers
October 14, 2017
This Latin twist on The Princess and the Pea fairy tale is a real treat for readers! The rhyming text incorporates Spanish words into the story of a queen trying to find the best wife for her son. She sets up a tricky test to see if she truly has the makings of a princess, but readers will be delighted to see the queen isn’t the only trickster around. The warm, cultural illustrations really draw readers into the story and wraps us up in the beautifully designed textiles, which were inspired by the artful creations of the indigenous people of Peru. This is definitely a book that you won’t want to put down!
Profile Image for Ashley.
192 reviews3 followers
February 17, 2018
2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner

A South American take on the traditional 'princess and the pea' story. The story is charming, but the illustrations are a real stand out! From the rich textiles to the deep colors to the amazingly grumpy reina and her cat, every page is a pleasure to look at closely. I really enjoyed how Spanish was used throughout the story, and the subtle cultural changes.
Profile Image for Laura Harrison.
988 reviews111 followers
November 1, 2017
One of my top 5 favorite picture books of 2017. An incredible well written and creative re-telling. The illustrations are some of the most beautiful I have ever come across in a picture book. I recommend La Princesa and the Pea for story time and an wonderful addition to a fairytale collection.
Profile Image for Chance Lee.
1,321 reviews119 followers
September 7, 2017
A bilingual re-imagination of a classic fairy tale, La Princesa and the Pea weaves English, Spanish, and Peruvian textiles into a memorable story.

The story is told in clean, effective rhymes that flow. The book incorporates a Spanish word in most verses, and -- usually -- the word's English meaning can be deciphered from the context of the other words and/or the accompanying illustrations. The book adds more and more Spanish as the story continues. If you're unsure of a word's English meaning or its Spanish pronunciation, the book provides an indispensable glossary.

The illustrations are the kind of soft drawings you feel like you could curl up in, even if there were a rock-hard pea tucked underneath the pages.

In 2017, I often wish for a post-modern twist in these retellings -- like the Princesa doesn't marry the príncipe and have twenty niños -- but this is not that book. Still a delightful story with fun rhymes and a use of Spanish vocabulary that challenges the readers to understand the meanings of non-basic words.
Profile Image for Margaret.
2,515 reviews
August 27, 2017
In tales of fairy there is always magic. It presents itself in varying degrees. These signs of enchantment are woven so adeptly into the main narrative, captivating readers; we suspend belief and accept them as truth. Anything seems possible.

In most of these stories royalty figures prominently. The personalities of those in power can range from wise and knowing to downright evil. La Princesa and the Pea (G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, September 5, 2017) written by Susan Middleton Elya with illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal presents us with a queen going to the extreme to make sure the quintessential bride is found for her son. Shifting the setting to Peru opens a door into the beauty of another culture and the opportunity for a marvelous twist on the original Hans Christian Andersen story.

My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...
Profile Image for Ricki.
Author 2 books101 followers
June 3, 2017
La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya is a bilingual retelling of The Princess and the Pea. There is a bit of a twist, and I laughed out loud as I read a section of the book. This book will bring great joy to kids. It does a great job of using Spanish words in ways that require children to consider context clues. Bonus: The illustrations are stunning!
Profile Image for Mary Louise Sanchez.
Author 1 book20 followers
October 18, 2017
What a fun twist to The Princess and the Pea illustrated through the perspective of Peruvian art and culture.

As always, the author has inclued Spanish words in rhyme and a Spanish glossary which also add much to this delightful tale. Elya's narrative poems are great models of short stories which include Spanish for all readers.

A fun book to revisit!
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews180 followers
November 5, 2017
Elya, Susan Middleton. La Princesa and the Pea, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. G. P. Putnam Sons,2017. $16.99. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK.

Primarily in English, but with several Spanish words thrown in, the fairytale of the Princess and the Pea is retold. El Principe was lonely and wanted to get married, but his mother was very picky about princesses. One day, a beautiful maiden on the way to her castle asks to stay. The mother picks the smallest of peas and demands that several mattresses be brought. The maiden tries to sleep on the mattress, but can’t. She passed the test and married the prince. The prince was quite pleased for he had put pitchforks and stones in the bed. And they have several children after they are wed.

The author uses great riming and natural word rhythms that make this a natural read aloud book. The story sparkles with wit and words in both English and Spanish. I really liked the twist of the prince making sure that the princess passed the test. The illustrations have a South-American flare and pair perfectly with the story. This book would be a great choice for story times, particularly bilingual Spanish/English story times.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -ADVISABLE. Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.
Profile Image for Stephanie Bange.
1,572 reviews13 followers
November 19, 2017
Time for a trip South of the Border...way down south to Peru for this retelling of the Princess and the Pea, with a slight twist.

In paired rhyming couplets, Elya relays this familiar tale of a young maiden riding her burro on her way to her castle. As she passes through another kingdom, a young prince spots her and decides this is the woman he wants to marry. His trusting mama puts her to the test: to see if she can sleep on a bed of twenty mattresses with a pea hidden under the very bottom one. Spanish is sprinkled throughout the text in a red font; a glossary of these Spanish terms can be found in the front of the book to help readers. Illustrations created using acrylics, colored pencils and graphite by Juana Martinez-Neal are filled with the charms, patterns and colors of Peru. I especially enjoyed the Queen, her scowling expression and unibrow. Kids will enjoy looking at the 20 hijos born to the Prince and Princess -- picking out which look like Mama, Papa, and Abuela!

A real charmer, be sure to add this one to your collection of fractured fairy tales!
Profile Image for Margaret Boling.
2,186 reviews35 followers
October 11, 2018
10/11/2017 ~ I read this aloud with a class of first grade bilingual students. So much fun. They were, however, far more interested in looking at the cat in each picture than in the story of the princess. As I did my reading this time, I noticed the guinea pig on each page. Thanks to reading Wedgie & Gizmo, I now know that guinea pigs are important to the Peruvian culture. It's amazing to me how we notice different details with each reading!

11/26/2017 ~~ I loved this variation on The Princess and the Pea! It even had a twist that let me believe that the princess could feel the pea. I also thoroughly enjoyed the code switching between English and Spanish and the way the rhymes worked. And finally, I enjoyed the ways the illustrator, Juana Martinez-Neal, incorporated Peruvian art and styles into the illustrations. A must-have for any library, especially those with Spanish-speaking patrons.
Profile Image for Melanie H..
3,703 reviews39 followers
November 2, 2017
A classic tale is given a cultural twist in this retelling of "The Princess and the Pea." La Princesa visits un castillo with un príncipe who is looking for una esposa. The princes madre doesn't like the looks of her, so she sets up a test with veinte colchones y un guisante.

A glossary containing a plethora of Spanish words greets readers before the story begins. This is incredibly helpful for those not familiar with the language. Spanish words are presented in bold, red text.

The Spanish words will give this story an additional flair when reading for storytime.

The illustrations are done with a soft palette of desert colors with accents of the bold colors expected from Latino cultures.
Profile Image for Lisa.
2,180 reviews13 followers
February 24, 2018
This retelling of the Princess and the Pea is muy bueno! The story stays true to the familiar story - princess needs to stay the night, so queen tests to see if she’s a true princess with an unrealistic challenge (pea under 20 mattresses).

The twist with this story is that it’s also a spanish primer. Beginning with a glossary (nice touch, it gave the reader a heads up that there were Spanish words to look for) the simple poetic text replaced important english words with the Spanish - printed in red so you knew they were there. The illustrations are delightful, colorful and cultural. This was a fun read.

Cross posted to http://kissthebook.blogspot.com CHECK IT OUT!
Profile Image for Sunday.
889 reviews45 followers
February 24, 2018
2018 Pura Belpre Illustrator Award Winner. Engaging, rhyming text, perfect for reading aloud to young children. The illustrations are delightful. I was surprised by the ending -- because I didn't pay close enough attention to the story being told through the illustrations! That's the power of this book. The kind of book children will want to return to again and again - to read both the words and the illustrations.

Don't skip the illustrator's note at the end. Her description of how the textiles in the book were inspired by indigenous groups in Peru makes the "reading of the illustrations" that much richer.
Profile Image for Margaux.
1,496 reviews29 followers
October 31, 2017
Oh my goodness this was so cute. If you're like me and think this fairytale is stupid, look no further for a readable version! Not only does the story actually make sense, it's in verse and it's BILINGUAL. I love when picture books teach you a little something, and this one does just that. Along with the language itself, the illustrations tell their own story. At the end, I saw that the illustrator was inspired by indigenous peoples of Peru! You can see the way they carry their babies, the guinea pigs, and especially the fabrics highlight a little of their way of life! Coolio.
Profile Image for Stephanie Tournas.
2,026 reviews15 followers
January 15, 2018
The classic fairy tale of the princess and the pea is retold here in rhyme, infused with Spanish words and a modern twist at the end. The warm, inviting acrylic and pencil illustrations show people, animals and textiles of Peru, giving the story a multicultural feel. A glossary with pronunciation guide at the beginning, and an endnote from the illustrator about the setting enrich the story. I especially like the brown-skinned prince's strategy to get around his bossy unibrowed Queen mother's traditional technique for insuring that the Princesa is really a princess. A very sweet offering.
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,994 reviews44 followers
June 12, 2018
I barely remember the Spanish I learned years ago, but I loved using context clues to figure out what the Spanish words thrown into this mostly English children's book mean. The rhymes helped!

Illustrations were cute, intricate, diverse, and I loved the illustrator's explanation of using Peruvian textiles at the end of the book.

And there is a twist at the end that makes this version of Princess and the Pea (I never really liked the original tale) different. And better!
Profile Image for emyrose8.
3,450 reviews15 followers
November 3, 2017
Maybe because I just got back from Guatemala, but I fell in love with this book. The spanish, the illustrations, the potential comprehension questions to ask students... Which country do you think this takes place in? What clues in the illustrations make you think that?

My students are also learning a little bit of spanish vocab, so it will be fun to see how many words they recognize/can decode/remember.
Profile Image for Stacy  Natal.
1,057 reviews11 followers
April 9, 2018
This bilingual, rhyming fairy tale tells the story of the Princess and the Pea, Peruvian style.

The book includes tons of Spanish words, many of which can be deciphered from the context. And the book includes a glossary. It is still best read by someone that knows a bit of Spanish so that the words are pronounced correctly so that they actually rhyme.

I read it to a bilingual student and we both loved it. 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Michele Knott.
3,553 reviews155 followers
September 6, 2017
Really glad the decision was made to put the glossary in the front of the book. Read through it well because with this rhyming book, you'll want to know the Spanish words upfront so not to mess with the rhythm of the rhyme. Very fun retelling. And gorgeous illustrations.
Profile Image for Kelly.
7,954 reviews12 followers
November 9, 2017
It's a nice version of the traditional story. It's a good thing there was a key in the front of the book with the Spanish to English words. I referenced it often, as there are many Spanish words. This makes reading the book take a little longer. Still, nice version.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews

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