The Tossy-Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea

The Tossy-Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea
Susan Verde and Jay Fleck
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Rather than being a playful fractured fairytale version of the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Princess and the Pea, this is a deliberate reworking of the story using a hippo as the princess, by yoga and mindfulness teacher and writer of I am Yoga, to help young insomniacs get a good night’s sleep.

Usually good at falling asleep, said young royal – a busy creature by day – finds that one night after her usual daytime schedule, she just cannot fall asleep. What she doesn’t know is that earlier in the day a pea from her brother’s lunch accidentally ended up in-between the mattresses on his sibling’s bed and he’d been unable to retrieve it.

After two sleepless nights the princess is by day cranky, completely lacking in energy and generally out of sorts.

Fortunately however her friends – the royal gardener, the royal chef, the royal librarian and the royal astronomer in turn, are ready and willing to give her some good advice.

The gardener teaches her the lizard pose; the cook demonstrates a calming breathing technique; the librarian shows her a ‘feet and legs up the wall’ means of relaxing, and the astronomer shares his lie down, let the whole body relax … look at the sky … and place each … worry on a star “until with every sparkle, they disappear.”

That night, the princess, once again wide awake, but somewhat relieved to know that others too have trouble sleeping from time to time, brings to mind the sage advice of her friends and tries their yoga and meditation techniques … until at last, she falls fast asleep. The following morning she’s bursting with energy once again and willing to overlook her brother’s pea accident, sure in the knowledge that it had resulted in some valuable learning experiences on her part.

Jay Fleck’s droll scenes featuring the princess and the royal entourage are engaging (little humans will be amused at their attire) and a final author’s note explains each of the techniques mentioned in the story.

Intended primarily as a pre-bedtime book, this is a gentle, soothing tale about learning to let go of your worries and the importance of friendship.

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