The Princess's Blankets

Carol Ann Duffy, Author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Illustrator , illus. by Catherine Hyde. Candlewick/Templar $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4547-2

British poet laureate Duffy (The Tear Thief ) tells the curiously dark fairy tale of a princess who is always cold. Her father offers any reward for her relief, “even unto half the kingdom.” Among those who arrive is a menacing stranger with “hard, gray eyes like polished stones,” who brings her a series of blankets stripped from the planet itself. The first—“the ocean's blanket”—is “woven in blues and greens and grays” and “moved over her body in clumsy, urgent waves.” Hyde paints the princess's face surrounded by an inky ocean, highlighted by silvery speckles of foam and fish tails. The stranger's gifts—blankets of forest, mountain, and earth—impoverish the world and smother the princess. Only when a humble musician appears and plays for her is the princess warmed and the earth restored. Richly told and sumptuously illustrated in haunting acrylics, it can be seen as a somber allegory of the waste of the earth's resources. But the image of the young woman who spends the story supine, waiting for a man to revive her, is disquieting. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/23/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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