cover image The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea

Rachel Isadora, . . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24611-1

Caldecott Honor artist Isadora (Ben's Trumpet ) offers a visually vibrant version of this Hans Christian Andersen classic, which she sets in Africa. Created with oil paints on printed and palette paper, the stylized collage-like art features an array of rich hues and intricate patterns. The spare narrative introduces a prince who travels the world in search of a “real princess” to marry. Readers see the hopeful fellow greeting three princesses, each of whom says hello in a different African language (translated at tale's end). Alas, “there was something about each princess that was not quite right, so the prince came home again and was sad.” One stormy evening a woman who claims to be a real princess arrives at the royal family's gate. After a pea is placed under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds—in a variety of cheerful fabrics—the guest climbs a ladder to the top layer. After a sleepless night, she announces that she's “black and blue all over.” A festive, flower-strewn spread reveals the prince and princess marrying, after which the portentous pea is seen on display in a museum, resting atop an elephant statue's raised trunk. An innovative interpretation of a timeless tale. Ages 3-up. (June)