Princess and the Peas

Rachel Himes. Charlesbridge, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-718-1
In her first children’s book, Himes transplants Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea” to an African-American community in mid-20th-century South Carolina, where a young man named John thinks it’s about time that he got married. His mother, Ma Sally, an acclaimed local cook, has mixed feelings: “She couldn’t bear the thought of her only child sitting down to an ill-cooked meal.” Thus it’s decided that John’s prospective bride will have to whip up a batch of black-eyed peas that pass muster with Ma Sally. Demonstrating one’s smarts and skill in the kitchen is a definite step up from simply being sensitive to foreign objects hidden under a mattress or 20, and Himes’s heroine, Princess, is no pushover. “I like John well enough, but I’ve got my own plans,” she says, setting aside any notions of a shotgun marriage. Instead, she suggests a date at the juke point and makes sure that John is doing his share: “Why don’t you show me how you scrub them pots and pans?” Rendered in a flattened, folk art style, Himes’s paintings lovingly evoke the period setting, highlighting the community’s warmth, traditions, and fashion. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 978-1-60734-884-9
Ebook - 978-1-60734-885-6
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