Skip to content

Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

Category Archives: fairy tale

princesshyacinthPrincess Hyacinth isn’t your normal princess. She floats. And that’s not a metaphor for her delicate manner of walking lady-like, she literally floats in the air. The only solution is for the king and queen to weigh her down with a heavy crown and jewels. But she wants to fly, and a new friendship will help do so.

A collaboration of two big names in the children’s literature world, Princess Hyacinth is a visual delight. Lane Smith’s illustrations are usually bright and loud, all over the page.  Here they’re  watercolors, more restrained and delicate. The story’s words are art themselves, when Princess Hyacinth floats up, so do they.   The visual play with words continues as the princess careens across the sky.

The ending is great. I love when a children’s book steps outside of the realm of neatly tying up things, it sparks imagination in children and in this dreamy fairy tale, it’s perfect.

Title:  Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated)
Author:  Florence Parry Heide (Illus. by Lane Smith)
Date: September 2009
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade (Random House)
Pages: 48
Format:  Hardback


Zoe Marriot’s debut, The Swan Kingdom, is a fantasy based on the Han Christian Anderson tale The Wild Swans. The cover art (pictured left) reflects the beauty and power within in the novel.

Princess Alexandra, of Farland, lives in a “beautiful and lush Kingdom,” that’s kept alive by the enaid, “the life of the world.” She’s taught in the ways of healing magic and “workings” by her mother. Alexandra grows up loved by her mother and doted on by her brothers, which help offset the distance she feels from her father. After her mother’s death, a mysterious woman banishes Alexandra and her brothers. Alexandra, armed with perseverance and fierce love might vanquish the woman and restore order to her kingdom.

Alexandra is an excellent character, as her mannerisms and inner self are realistic – like any young girl in her mother’s shadow, she has doubts in her abilities, and looks upon herself as the least favored in her father’s eyes. Marriot’s prose is electric and brings Alexandra alive, with stirring passages as Alexandra must confront not only the outsider who has banished her and her brothers from their kingdom, but also her doubts.

Marriot writes very sparingly, without overly flowerly descriptions of the kingdom and the magic within, and the effort leaves a powerful novel rooted in a familiar tale, yet with a magic all its own.

The Swan Kingdom is available now from Candlewick Press.

Copy for review provided by the publisher.