Reading Beauty

Reading Beauty
Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt
Chronicle Books

If, like this reviewer, you enjoy fractured fairy tales of the feminist kind, then this latest one from the Interstellar Cinderella team, Deborah Underwood, who supplies the pacey rhyming narrative and Meg Hunt, the illustrator, will surely appeal.

Princess Lex, along with the majority of inhabitants of the planetoid, is a bibliophile. Lex’s room is bursting with books and she reads at every hour of the day and night. She’s even trained Prince her puppy to acquire reading material for her.

On her fifteenth birthday however, she wakes to discover all her books have disappeared.

Her parents explain that when she was born there was a birthday celebration but one fairy was convinced she’d not been invited. Furious: she’d uttered a curse to take effect on Lex’s fifteenth birthday;

the princess would get a paper cut causing her to fall into a death-like sleep.

A life without books? It doesn’t bear thinking about so Lex resolves to find the fairy and make her lift the curse.

With the assistance of Prince and a bot, she acquires and reads appropriate books to help her find the fairy’s lair, and another to be able to land. But that fairy isn’t finished yet: she’s determined to have one more try.

Happily though Lex outsmarts the fairy but the plot takes a surprise twist or two before reaching its satisfying ’happily ever after’ that will especially please book lovers. So too will Meg Hunt’s lively, futuristic, patterned, mixed media illustrations – love those end papers.

A good one to add to any primary class fairy tale collection.

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