The Big Princess & Princess Mirror-Belle

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The Big Princess
Taro Miura
Walker Books
This is a prequel to the Japanese author’s charming The Tiny King. One night in his dreams the king of a distant land is visited by a white dove telling him of a princess child he will find in the palace garden, a princess under a spell; a spell that must be broken for the princess to become his true daughter. Failure though will result in the ruination of his kingdom. When morning comes the king rushes to his garden and there discovers sitting upon a leaf, a tiny princess. Oh joy! Both king and queen puzzle over the nature of the spell and its possible consequences but meanwhile the little princess starts to grow and grow… and grow… until she is taller than the king and queen themselves. In seemingly no time she has almost outgrown the castle and that’s when the king remembers his dream. From then on he and his wife try desperately to break the spell but to no avail. With the tallest castle tower at breaking point, the king notices something through the tower window, something tiny, shiny and black

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that could just be the key to breaking the spell.
As with its predecessor, Miura has used precision, patterned cut-outs in bright, bold colours and white, to construct simple shaped collage scenes. In addition though herein he adds embellishments in the form of separate but linked smaller, mostly black and white objects – a chair,

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a toy trumpet, a spoon for example.
An unusual, quirky modern fairy tale with a longish text and glowing, sunflower- filled ending.

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Princess Mirror-Belle and the Dragon Pox
Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks
Macmillan Children’s Books
Ellen has chicken pox; she’s covered from head to toe in horribly itchy spots; and what does she want to do to those spots? Scratch them of course, especially the one right on the tip of her nose. As she gazes in the bathroom mirror, about to do the deed, she hears a voice – no, not mum’s but Princess Mirror-Belle’s. This little madam, for so she seems, leaps from the mirror, a mirror image of herself even down to the missing slipper which she claims was stolen by a goblin, and announces that it’s not chicken pox but Dragon Pox Ellen has – eeugh! She knows how to cure it too, clever clogs that she is. And the cure? It involves a bath full of water to which one must add pretty much anything and everything the grown-ups happen to have left visible in the bathroom – bubble bath (a whole bottle), toothpaste (an entire tube), dad’s shaving foam; you can see where this is going – not the loo paper bandaging perhaps …
As she concocts the cure, the princess tells Ellen all about her enchanted life beyond the mirror, a life with knights and dragons,

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fairies, magical spells and more. Ellen is then instructed to close her eyes and count to a hundred. At the final number the spell is broken: someone is beside her but now it’s her mum looking none too happy about the state of the bathroom. Over to you Ellen.

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There’s glitter galore in this funny story, delivered for a change in prose rather than Donaldson’s more usual rhyme. Lydia Monks’ sparkle-spangled, collage constructed illustrations offer readers an abundance of opportunities for visual and tactile exploration.

Find and buy these from your local bookshop

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