**spoiler alert** I never thought I would buy a book that pink. The colour almost hurt my eyes when browsing through the shelves of the bookstore. But**spoiler alert** I never thought I would buy a book that pink. The colour almost hurt my eyes when browsing through the shelves of the bookstore. But somehow I felt compelled to take a look at it (still affected by all the pink brainwashing from my childhood?) and I realized this is not the book you think it is at first sight – that is, a girly princess-to-be-rescued kind of book. Instead, it is a book about a bunch of incompetent knights and a much more incompetent king who fail to save the day and a smart princess who knows better.
Once I was playing with a 5-year-old who had a huge toy castle with different action figures inside. He pretended that there was some sort of war going on and he started to provide all the people in the castle with tiny swords. He didn’t give a sword to the princess though, and when I pointed that out he looked at me very seriously and told me, ‘No princess at that time knew how to use a sword’. Of course, the statement was true from a historical point of view, but it hurt me to think that he just left the princess alone in the castle without a single weapon to defend herself.
This book starts with a great quote:
“The trouble with most fairy tales is that they sound the same. There’s usually a problem and a dragon who’s to blame. And sometimes there’s a tower with a princess stuck inside, a kingly dad and lot of knights who often want a bride. But though this is a fairy tale with all the usual team, if you read on you’ll find that things aren’t always what they seem”.
A tired king is awaken by the shouts of people asking for help – the forest in on fire. The princess deducts that the fire was caused by a dragon and soon the king sets out to find a brave knight who will slay the dragon and get the princess in return. Until this point, everything looks like your average princess book. However, the knights turn out to be completely useless and self-centred and someone else needs to step up. Spoiler alert – the princess has decided to deal with the dragon herself. But she’s not going all Joan of Arc to defeat the beast, she has figured out the problem and she won’t need to battle. Common sense and intelligence are the way to save the kingdom.
I am not a fan of princess books. I am certainly not a fan of pink books (and if I were the author I’d really, really want to have that cover in a different colour), but this story is very nice and the rhymes are funny and witty. It is a pity that the cover is not going to attract many boys because of that nonsense rejection of everything pink. The plot is nevertheless relevant both for girls and boys and I love how it is not condescending and at the same time it’s manifestly showing how it is much more useful to think and find smart ways of dealing with problems than just letting your prejudices and tradition lead you....more
This book has raised the bar so high that I'm scared I'm not gonna be able to find another children's book that warms my heart so much. I have to admiThis book has raised the bar so high that I'm scared I'm not gonna be able to find another children's book that warms my heart so much. I have to admit that I'm a 28 year old woman who cried a bit after reading this wonderful work of art. The story is so sensitively written and the characters are so lovable and charming. Most of the reviews out there say that this book deals with the topic of DEATH - the main character is a mayfly that has just one day to live its full life - but it is actually a metaphor of LIFE. It's not so much focused on the death of the character but on its life and how to make the most of it. Such a positive message and such an original way to express it. The mayfly wants too see all of New York before the sunset and you bet its gonna have the best day of its life. I cannot stress enough how beautiful the artwork in this book is. I found the book in the bookstore and I didn't let go of it until many hours later, you just can't stop looking at it. As it is stated in the cover, this book is definitely not just for children. Loved it!...more
I believe that a great book (specially a children's book) is that in which the protagonist has a big personality and a life on its own. You wish you cI believe that a great book (specially a children's book) is that in which the protagonist has a big personality and a life on its own. You wish you could meet that character in person. That's what happens with Zuźka. The humorous style in which the book is written makes you feel like you wanna be best friends with her. She is vivacious and interesting - of course she is used to complaining too but in a way that you feel sympathetic with her. Any kid (or adult!) would enjoy reading this book because it deals with something we all have experienced at some point: adapting to a new situation and finding your place. However, for me the BEST thing about this book is the wonderful illustrations by Nikola Kucharska. I haven't found yet any illustrator that captivates better the life of an image....more
I found this book in the store and I just immediately thought it was perfect. There’s an owl who wonders about the concept of tomorrow (what it is? whI found this book in the store and I just immediately thought it was perfect. There’s an owl who wonders about the concept of tomorrow (what it is? when does it start?) and it starts to ask other animals to see if they can answer those questions. It turns out that the answer is not as easy as they might think…
I remember that time I was talking with a three year old and he asked me when was his birthday and I answered, “Tomorrow” and he looked a bit puzzled but didn’t say anything, and then, after a couple of hours he came back and asked me, “Is it tomorrow already?” so I had to explain him that for it to be tomorrow he had to wait until we had supper and then go to sleep and after that he would wake up and it would be tomorrow – and therefore his birthday. It always amused me how little children can be so confused about the concept of time. It’s like they’re living the present to its maximum expression.
So this book is very relevant. It’s not just beautiful to say the least, it is also really interesting for children to explore the concept of time in a way that is not scientifical....more
This book touches deeply inside every one of us because it deals with one of the most complicated aspects of human emotions – self-acceptance.
What ifThis book touches deeply inside every one of us because it deals with one of the most complicated aspects of human emotions – self-acceptance.
What if one day you woke up and realized that you have grown horns on your head (wink to Kafka’s Metamorphosis)? That is the situation that encounters our young hero in this beloved book that describes the fear and pressure of fitting in a judgmental society.
The huge format of the book allows for gigantic illustrations that makes the delight of young (and not so young) readers. Its blatant message does not sweeten a reality that each of us face almost on a daily basis.
We have all experienced the insecurities that overcome us when we find in ourselves some trait that we don’t like or we are ashamed of. As the hero of this book shows us, though, we all have something that makes us different and that should not be a reason of embarrassment.
I love the great illustrations made by Guido van Genechten – so simple and yet so effective. It’s also great that the message of this story is not told in a cheesy way but it’s direct and undiluted.
The conclusion is a deep reflection that we all should take into account....more
This book tells the warm-hearting story of a boy called Kenta who is great at playing football with his friends. His classmates always wait for him inThis book tells the warm-hearting story of a boy called Kenta who is great at playing football with his friends. His classmates always wait for him in the mornings to play ball with him in the playground. During the day, Kenta enjoys spending time with his friends, but he also feels curious about the girls’ games, since they seem to enjoy playing with their dolls so much. One day, Kenta decides to bring his own doll to school and tries to engage in the girls’ game. At first the girls are a bit reticent to let a new player into their game, but soon after Kenta becomes an active team member. The children have a lot of fun inventing scenarios for their dolls and Kenta proves to have a great imagination.
What seems like an innocent book has a very deep and tender meaning. The gender roles are depicted in the beginning as being very fixed the boys play football and the girls play with dolls. Nowadays, however, there is not such a clear line. Children are encouraged to exchange gender-typed toys and the companies are trying to build more gender neutral toys in order to empower kids and let them have the opportunity to develop more skills than the ones that are associated with their gender. When the original book was published in 2007 (almost ten years ago), this debate was just starting, so this book could still have been regarded as quite controversial. And these days there are still people who believe that playing with toys that are originally designated for the opposite sex could be damaging for the development of the kids’ personality.
Nonetheless, the book is beautifully written. The reader can empathise with the hero of the story, who struggles with his fear to let his father down and be mocked by his male friends and his curiosity for the games that the girls are playing. Kenta ends up being a wonderful teammate with a great imagination for wild adventures and exciting stories. Proving that to have fun you don’t need to stick to your gender-typed toys.
I would also like to add a comment on the brilliant illustrations by Pija Lindenbaum and the hilarious dialogs that contrasts with the seriousness of the topic.
A great read that I would recommend to all readers, both boys and girls ;)...more