Tag Archives: Linked Picture Books Week

Friday Pick{ture Book}: The Princess and The Peas

The Princess and The Peas: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow, 2012)

The Princess and The Peas: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton
(Nosy Crow, 2012)

I am a teeny (huge) bit of a fan of both Caryl’s and Sarah’s work separately, so this combination was hugely exciting to me. It looks like I should dislike it intensely: see the princess, see the pink cover! But this is Caryl Hart, Sarah Warburton and Nosy Crow so you know you’re going to get something wonderful and this book doesn’t disappoint.

“With all things considered, I have to assess
This disease has no cure! The girl’s a princess.”
“You have to be joking!” her father exclaimed.
“Shes a princess all right,” the doctor explained.

Forgive me for going off on an adult-focussed commentary but I absolutely love this book and need to write about it in detail! Lily-Rose May lives with her dad in a lovely home in the woods. All the pages set at home are in beautiful natural colours with a lovely garden, rabbits, nature everywhere. Lily-Rose has a dress which is white with cherries on and a red ribbon in her hair. She is wonderfully, happily, girly without the default pink-ness. Her room is shown as being bright and feminine with the natural green and yellow that permeate the ‘home’ images and there are pink things in it because why not, girls do like pink too and that is just fine.

She lives with her dad. In the background of the pictures there are photo frames where you see a happy couple on their wedding day, plus baby pictures. The whole aura is of a well-loved little girl with a very caring dad who tries his best to give her a great and healthy life. There is no mention of the mother so there seems to be a tinge of sadness behind the story but Lily-Rose and her dad are having a lovely life together. The sadness behind the scenes may be why her dad tries so hard to get her to eat peas, but this is a children’s story so it’s also a slightly surreal point that drives the story on too.


The doctor is quite utterly mad, and has very much the look of a mad scientist about him. The diagnosis of Princess-itis and taking Lily-Rose away from her idyllic, but normal, life is probably one that many children brought up on a diet of unrealistic expectations and reality TV dream of. The cautionary tale of “The Princess and The Pea” retold beautifully in monotone with the main characters peering around the side of a gigantic book is the second distinct colour-scheme in the book making each location very distinct from each other.

Lily-Rose is torn between her love for her dad and the promise of great things and her loving father soothes her and does what he thinks is best for her future. Onto the palace location and pink becomes the primary colour in the illustrations. There is everything a princess could wish for: dressing up room, shoe room, a huge library, a room of her own with a television, jewels and pink dresses!

She’s initially taken in by all the material things, she puts on the frilly pink dress and tiara, she bounces on the luscious pink bed, she’s smitten by the enormous library (I’ll give her that one!) but of course reality soon hits in the life of a real princess isn’t wearing clothes and looking pretty, it’s hard work meeting people, representing your family, giving speeches and encouragement, shaking hands and deportment… The food also isn’t up to much 😉 Peas may be off the menu but the replacement certainly isn’t an improvement!


Lily-Rose soon realises that home and her dad are where she belongs so she gives back all the jewels and clothes and goes back. The odd pea is a minor inconvenience in the wonderful life with a loving family, and all’s well that ends well.

There is too much to love in this story: the lyrical rhyming, the fun and funny story, the encouragement to eat what you’re given, the pro-books imagery everywhere, the moral that for most children, home is the best place to be and celebrity isn’t all it may seem… Maybe I read too much into it but I love, love, love what this book says to me!

As for MG and DG, they love the book for its funny story, for its beautiful illustrations, for all the details they can pick out. And of course they also love the pink palace and all the princess things but I hope the message is going in too. There’s no reason not to like pink, or to play dress up and pretend to be a princess, and to like a variety of things (including tons of pink if you want!) but reality is a different matter too and happy ever after comes in all sorts of forms…

Disclaimer: I requested & received a copy of The Princess and the Peas by Nosy Crow for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Addendum: I also bought a copy which was kindly signed by Sarah and Caryl for MG and DG, so I’ll be donating the review copy.

Sir Laughalot: Tony Mitton & Sarah Warburton

Sir Laughalot: Tony Mitton & Sarah Warburton (Orchard Books, 2010)

Sir Laughalot: Tony Mitton & Sarah Warburton
(Orchard Books, 2010)

Sometimes, when I really love a book, I find it hard to write about it. Partially because I don’t know where to start and partially because I’ve been spending too long looking at all the lovely details in the book instead of actually writing about them! This is one of those books…

He has his shield. He had his sword.
But Laughalot is feeling… bored.
What can he do? Where can he go?
Let’s find Sir Laughalot a foe.

Try as we might (because as the reader, you are leading the child through the story), we cannot find a suitable foe. There’s a dragon, a giant and a sorceress but Laughalot isn’t really the fighting kind and finds humour in every situation which all the potentially fearsome foes end up laughing along with.

Then somehow, joyously, instead he finds the perfect match for him (and he for her) and instead chooses to “chuckle all their cares away.” A great story to lift your spirits. The rhyme is fun and flows well but the illustrations, oh the illustrations are sublime! The dragon with his very spiky teeth and wiggly nasal hair; the beautiful borders around the pictures; and the scary sorceress with her tall tower and owl…

The book has also been laid out beautifully with a great mixture of full page and small detail illustrations, differing text sizes and medieval woodcut style pictures scattered throughout. A hoot and a hit!

Disclaimer: I requested & received a copy of Sir Laughalot from Hachette Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.


The Somethingosaur: Tony Mitton & Russell Ayto

The Somethingosaur: Tony Mitton & Russell Ayto (Harper Collins Children's Books, 2012)

The Somethingosaur: Tony Mitton & Russell Ayto
(Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2012)

 Russell Ayto and dinosaurs again 🙂 These are much nicer dinosaurs though, they’re curvy, less angular and don’t have such big sharp teeth! They’re also incidental to the story as the little somethingosaur may not be an -osaur at all…

He wanders the deserts, the swamps and the plains.
He travels through blistering heat and through rains.
He visits the places that no dino knows.
And little by little… He grows… And he grows.

An egg is lost and sits alone until out pops a very cute and very alone little… something. There are some very lovely little things in the backgrounds of the pages, like a “lost egg” poster where little Something hatches, not to mention an incredibly cute bug who follows Something on his adventure with his own story.

Something asks the dinosaurs he meets if he belongs to them but being rejected he goes on a long quest and eventually finds his mum. The mountain he climbs to get there is very dark and foreboding but there’s a happy surprise at the end. And is he really a dinosaur? Now that would be telling…

The book has gorgeous artwork throughout and a lovely happy snuggled-up-families ending. Great to read when snuggled together.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Something-O-Saur by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Captain Flinn and The Pirate Dinosaurs Missing Treasure: Giles Andreae & Russell Ayto

Captain Flinn and The Pirate Dinosaurs Missing Treasure: Giles Andreae & Russell Ayto (Puffin Books, 2007)

Captain Flinn and The Pirate Dinosaurs Missing Treasure: Giles Andreae & Russell Ayto
(Puffin Books, 2007)

This is one of a series of books following Captain Flinn (a boy), his friends (boys and girls – yay!) and their encounters with the ferocious Pirate Dinosaurs. Pirates and Dinosaurs? Genius!

In this story, Flinn and his classmates are visiting a museum (museums – yay!) when they hear that some real pirate treasure has been stolen from an exhibit. The intrepid crew follow clues and are thrust onto a pirate ship and into the clutches of the scary pirate dinosaurs…

Actually, these dinosaurs really are pretty scary with their spiky teeth and pirate paraphernalia (fantastic!) but they’re no match for Flinn and friends so all ends happily after a few shocks and scares…

And don’t think we’ve forgotten
That this pirate’s rather rotten
So let’s barbecue his bottom
With some spicy chicken wings!

The book is written in prose but Andreae’s wonderful rhyming does get a look-in too – being a child at heart I love the barbecued bottom line. Coupled with Russell Ayto’s crazy illustrations this is a fabulously silly and fun book to read.

MG and DG aren’t so into pirates and dinosaurs (DG had a big pirate phase, but not really dinosaurs) so this book doesn’t go into their hit list otherwise I’d have bought the whole set. I think it’s great fun and most dinosaur and pirate loving kids are bound to love it too.

Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants: Giles Andreae & Korky Paul

Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants: Giles Andreae & Korky Paul (Puffin Books, 2012)

Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants: Giles Andreae & Korky Paul
(Puffin Books, 2012)

Giles Andreae. Korky Paul. Do I even need to write more?! A delightful rhyming romp with bare bottoms, trademark Korky-creatures, a giant, knight, castle and golden underpants. Has “give to reluctant readers” stamped all over it 😉

Long ago there lived a king
Of majesty and fame,
The mighty king of England…
And King Colin was his name.

Alas and alack, King Colin’s pride and joy, his golden underpants, have been half-inched by a naughty giant. There’s only one thing for it, intrepid six-year old knight, Sir Scallywag and his trusty horse Doofus are on the case to return the pants in time for breakfast!

This is a slightly oversized picture book, so lots of room for the gorgeously detailed illustrations. Korky Paul is one of my favourite illustrators, packing the pages full of tiny details and humour. As to be expected, Giles Andreae’s rhyming scans well and ends on a great note for small children: you may be small, but you are still capable of great things.