'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 26 February 2010

Review: How to be the Perfect Princess

Title: How to be the Perfect Princess

Author: Caitlin Matthews

Illustrator: Bee Willey

Publisher: Allen & Unwin, A$14.99RRP

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 978 1742 371122

For ages: 7+

Type: Picture Book

About: This delightful book, by the illustrious Princess Petal (a.k.a. Caitlin Matthews), is a divine princess guide, all wrapped up in a sparkling, purple and pink package. Little girls everywhere will truly sigh in their Cinderella pumpkin carriages.

The book commences with Princess Petal’s true story. Her nickname may be Goose Girl, however unlike many a famous princess, Petal was actually born into a privileged life before marrying Prince Pallas and becoming an author and living happily ever after. As princesses do.

We then move on to vital princess instruction, beginning with Etiquette for Princesses – how to be polite, truthful, honourable and grateful – perhaps reminders many a young miss needs nowadays.

There are also sections on deportment, how to move, walk up and down stairs and even sit like a princess. Hardly a patronizing how-to, the focus is instead a tongue-in-cheek guide to refinement – like how to walk in a long skirt and how to drape your princess gown so your ankles don’t show. Oh – and don’t fidget!

Princess Cordelia’s Guide to Dressing gives advice on what to wear to a variety of royal occasions from inspecting the guard to visiting hospitals, even monster fighting (appropriate attire is available from The Guild of Princesses Armoury).

There is advice on wearing crowns and tiaras (crowns get a little heavy), how to make a proper curtsy, and things a princess should avoid (drinks and apples that might be poisoned, for example). Priceless tips on princes and suitors includes questions to ask your love interest, like “what lasts longer than life?”. The answer? True love.

But there are also gentle reminders how important it is to be a gracious, fair and kind princess, who is accepting, patient, and tolerant – all qualities a parent would foster in any little princess. And for those little darlings who struggle a little on the good deeds front, never fear – there’s a school for wayward princesses.

For those girls new to the princess scene, there’s priceless information on how to make contact with fairy godmothers, the lowdown on spells and enchantments, how to apply for The Guild of Princesses, and tips going to The Ball and living Happily Every After.

How to be the Perfect Princess is lavishly illustrated by Bee Willey, who skillfully blends pictures of modern day girls with traditional beauties and plenty of sparkle. The book is laid out with plenty of visual delight, and although I personally feel the layout is a bit of a mishmash of too many differing styles, little princesses will be too agog at all the page-action to notice.

Coupled with intermittent stories of real life princesses and their journeys, which offer intriguing insight into both the famous and not-so-famous princesses of yore, and even fabulous advice on how to throw the perfect princess party, this handbook is not only a fun (and often funny), it will make your little one feel like a queen.

After all, every princess is a queen in waiting.

Author website
Illustrator website

This book is available online