The Duchess of Whimsy

Randall de Seve, Author, Peter Deseve, Illustrator , illus. by Peter de Sève Philomel $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25095-8

Despite its witty tongue-in-cheek tone and quirky and exuberant artwork, this love story about an earl and an unconventional duchess blurs the line between “ordinary” and “extraordinary.” The narrator insists that the extravagant duchess of Whimsy is “the life of the party” while the earl of Norm is “as normal as they come.” But the earl, whose Ichabod Crane body is shown dressed in courtly finery, seems as eccentric as the rest of the courtiers, who Peter de Sève gleefully depicts with exaggerated hairstyles and facial expressions and wearing oceans of fabric. He wears a jaunty feather in his tall, lopsided hat, and in an effort to impress the duchess, he presents her with a giraffe who tries to eat the foliage on the courtier’s hats. He even composes “sugary poetry comparing the duchess to a squid, a platypus and a penguin.” Nonetheless, she continues to pronounce him “too ordinary!” It’s not until the earl of Norm shares his ordinary grilled cheese sandwich with the duchess that she wonders if she’s misjudged him, and in the happily-ever-after end, they both find each other to be “simply extraordinary !” Ages 4–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/05/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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