PRINCESS AASTA

Stina Langlo Ordal, Author, Stina Langlo rdal, Author, Stina Ordal Langlo, Author
Stina Langlo Ordal, Author, Stina Langlo rdal, Author, Stina Ordal Langlo, Author . Bloomsbury $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58234-783-7
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-7475-4127-1
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In this ethereal Scandinavian tale, lonely Princess Aasta places a classified ad: "Little princess seeking big, cuddly bear friend." The young princess, whose creased round face, sleepy eyes and rosy button nose give her the appearance of a newborn infant, receives many letters and photos in response. She chooses to meet a huge polar bear named Kvitebjørn, and they become inseparable. Aasta and Kvitebjørn's relationship borders on true love (they "wanted to be together always"), and the girl's father keeps an eye on them from behind an apple tree: "The King was worried about having a big, dangerous Ursus maritimus running about in his garden./ But when he saw how much fun the two of them had together, he left them alone." In an episode that recalls Philip Pullman's fantasy novels, the heroine goes on a northerly journey with her friend, and evocative illustrations contrast the bear's snow-white fur and the tiny princess's ruby-red gown against vast skies of eggplant-purple and midnight blue. Ørdal, who bases this story on a Norwegian folktale, uses a scribbly pen-and-ink line on white negative space to create her uncluttered images. She summarizes her themes in the opening endpapers, which picture one set of cool-blue bear tracks in snow, and the closing endpapers, which depict two sets of tracks side-by-side. This romantic tale takes place in a cold climate, but presents a friendship in full bloom. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

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