cover image Song for a Princess

Song for a Princess

Rachael Mortimer, illus. by Maddy McClellan, Scholastic/Chicken House, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-24835-8

The ability of words to comfort and to connect friends is at the crux of this heartening if treacly book. In a palace garden lives a bird who loves words more than he loves worms: "A worm was gone in two beakfuls, but a word could bring happiness over and over again," writes Mortimer. The bird collects words that he overhears and weaves them into his nest, which McClellan portrays, a bit predictably, with collaged words like "princess," "gorgeous," and "creative." A princess and her friend share the bird's fondness for words, and they spend hours telling stories, reading, and singing. When her friend goes away and the young royal grows lonely, various birds bring her gifts—some quite flashy—to perk her up. None is successful until the humble, word-loving bird flies to the palace with "words tucked into his feathers" and sings the princess a lullaby pledging his friendship. The vibrant colors and patchwork of textures, patterns, and decorative shapes in McClellan's mixed-media artwork offers diversions aplenty, but the innocuous story (not to mention vocabulary) isn't especially inspirational. Ages 3–6. (Nov.)