cover image Princess Pistachio

Princess Pistachio

Marie-Louise Gay, trans. from the French by Jacob Homel. Pajama Press (Orca, dist.), $12.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-927485-69-9

Gay (the Stella and Sam books) introduces a mercurial heroine named Pistachio Shoelace in this early reader series launch. An anonymous birthday gift of a golden crown confirms the redheaded, freckle-faced girl’s belief that she is actually a princess from an island kingdom, where she was showered with lavish presents—“silver skates, invisible kites, a parrot that spoke five languages”—until a jealous witch whisked her away to live with “adoptive parents.” Pistachio’s jubilation over “discovering” her regal origins gives way to outrage when her parents and friends refuse to appreciate her royal status (“My real mother would never deny me anything,” Pistachio huffs). Worse still, her baby sister, Penny, insists she’s a princess (or rather “pwincess”), too. Airy spot illustrations keep the comedy fresh, drolly portraying Pistachio’s lofty airs, which result in not-infrequent rages when the world doesn’t bend to her will. Gay gives full credence to Pistachio’s volatile emotions—she often lashes out at her sister in ways that are uncomfortably believable—which makes the reconciliation between the girls feel a bit rushed as the story concludes. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)