Princess Sylvie

Elsa Beskow. Floris (SteinerBooks, dist.), $17.95 (28p) ISBN 978-0-86315-813-1
The late Beskow's (The Land of Long Ago) story of Princess Sylvie and her father the king comes by its nostalgic appearance honestly: it was first published in Sweden in 1934. Charmingly, Sylvie and her father act just like any ordinary parent and child, despite the fact that they're both wearing crowns. In closely observed vignettes, the two debate the wisdom of leaving the palace grounds ("I knew going into the wood wasn't a good idea," the king mutters to himself) and cope with annoying setbacks (he loses his keys, and the two have to climb over the wall to get home). In the forest, Princess Sylvie strays from the path and meets a talking bear, who obligingly lets her ride on his back; when they emerge, the king says what any father might: "Sylvie, what are you doing?... Get down right now!" The playful upsetting of the idea that monarchs enjoy luxurious and smoothly orchestrated lives provides gentle amusement; similarly, the talking bear, who should be a ham, turns out to be an introvert: "Well, I'd better be going then," he says, slinking off. An added attraction: Beskow's dainty, sentimental illustrations are the visual equivalent of cupcakes. Ages 4–up. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 01/01/2011
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