Never fear, Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater and Valeria Docampo will be in the enthusiastically reread category, with no pain involved.
Princess Amanita is not your average princess. She loves all things dangerous, and her garden would make Morticia Addams proud. And then...
"One day, as the princess was watering a patch of itching thistles, a prince from a neighboring kingdom rode up. His name was Florian and he was out looking for for a dragon to slay, or a knight to challenge--or at least someone his own age to talk to."The prince's arrival sets off a chain of funny events that culminate in the character growth of the princess (and undoubtedly of the young prince, too.)
My girls and I chuckled our way through the appealing absurdity of this refreshingly non-girly princess story. It appealed to my younger princess-loving daughters, and even my older princess-loathing daughter. I can see this being a hit with boys, too, because the traditional princess aspect isn't present. (It will help that the word doesn't feature in the title, but the word "danger" does.) All kids can identify with danger-loving Princess Amanita in some aspect, because at its heart, Dangerously Ever After is the story of a little girl whose way of identifying herself is called into question when she encounters events outside her comfort zone and control, which leads to growth and balance. That sounds heavy, doesn't it? But really that "lesson" is just naturally absorbed into the story.
This is the first book I've read by Dashka Slater, and I'm delighted with the introduction. The story's pacing, language, and length work beautifully as a read-aloud, perfect for ages 4/5 and up. It's one of the few picture books we've read that appeals to all my girls with equal enthusiasm. The illustrations by Valeria Docampo are a delight. Beautiful, vibrant, and fun, they perfectly highlight and compliment the text. The artist's heavy use of blue keeps the fierceness of Amanita's world in check. My girls loved the scorpion tail inspired hair-do, the suit-of-armour dresses, the prince's steed (a bicycle), and the strangely appealing garden.
For what it's worth, my girls and I are giving Dangerously Ever After a hearty thumbs up.
Published in Semptember 2012 by Dial Books For Young Readers
Review copy generously supplied by publisher.
Nominated for the CYBILS 2012 by Charlotte of Charlotte's Library.