Today’s book for review, and a very funny one it is too, is This is NOT a Fairy Tale, by Will Mabbitt and Fred Blunt, published by Penguin.
Once upon a time there was …
What? A princess perhaps? A queen? Two children who wandered into a forest and got lost?
These are some of the tropes of traditional fairy tales but young Sophie is bored with the familiar. She wants her fairy tales to be unusual. A princess who rescues a bald prince, for example. On a combine harvester instead of a horse, because it’s much quicker to battle your way through a forest of thorns. This is much better – combining modern sensibilities with traditional structures.
Thus is the idea behind Will Mabbitt’s and Fred Blunt’s new picture book and it works well. There is a gentle chaos in the words and pictures that kept the children I read this book to captivated. They weren’t too thrown at the idea of a princess saving a prince – that’s been done before in avant-garde retellings. But a bald prince instead of a handsome one with a head of hair? Fantastic. A combine harvester instead of a strong steed? Even better, especially for the boys who love a bit of machinery in their stories. And the inclusion of a transformer? Well, you can’t get much better than that.
This story will no doubt go down a treat with both boys and girls, especially if you can encourage the boys past the front cover (they tend to scoff at fairy tales). This is where it’s great in my library sessions – they are a captive audience so kind of have to listen to what I choose to read! But the boys loved this as much as the girls, possibly more with the surreal turn of events with cartoon-like characters sorting out the baddies. The girls giggled at the princess saving the day. It was a winner with all my listeners. I just hope that the underlying message gently gets through to the girls, who still like their pink princesses being rescued. It’s OK to be strong, it’s OK to be funny and independence is pretty cool too.
Please note that while I received a copy of this book to review, the views expressed are entirely my own.