cover image The Water Princess

The Water Princess

Susan Verde, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-17258-8

In a stirring, thought-provoking story based on the childhood of model Georgie Badiel in Burkina Faso, Verde and Reynolds follow a girl and her mother as they retrieve water for the family’s use. Reynolds (whose previous books with Verde include I Am Yoga and The Museum) uses sumptuous violets and golds for the expansive African night sky and grassy plains—both of which young Gie Gie, a self-described princess with a wiry physique and beads in her braided hair, considers to be her domain. Gie Gie claims she can “tame the wild dogs with my song” and “make the wind play hide-and-seek,” but summoning clean, readily accessible water is beyond her ability. Verde’s poetic language reflects the length and difficulty of Gie Gie and her mother’s trek, along with the positive spirit the girl brings to the task. Toward the end, the implicit injustice of the situation is addressed directly: “Maman,” Gie Gie asks, “Why is the water so far? Why is the water not clear? Where is our water?” They are questions that readers will want answered, too. Ages 5–8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)