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

Thursday 2 January 2014

Review: Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated

I will openly admit I love a book that has the x-factor. It could be the superlative illustrations by one of my favourite children's book creators, Lane Smith, yes.

But it could also be the fact that this gorgeous book really does have that certain something--quite indefinable.

Perhaps it's the lovely language, the unique concept, the delectable plot. Perhaps it's the avoidance of hammer-it-in messaging. Perhaps it's Princess Hyacinth herself--an enormously likable girl who has one weighty problem.

She floats.

It's not explained why she floats (picture books don't need explanation)--she just does. And she really is quite over it. Being weighted down, day in, night out, with diamond pebbles sewn into the tops of her socks and a crown of the heaviest jewels, is no fun for a young lass keen for adventure.

Or just walking unfettered.

It's not until one day, when the Princess espies a red-headed boy and his kite in the park grounds below, running free and happily, that things change for our young airborne girl.

Determined to go to the park herself, Hyacinth weights herself down and drags herself outside. Spotting a man with a mass of helium balloons, she convinces him to tie her to his bundle so she can float alongside the colourful orbs clutched in his fist.

Of course, the man lets go of her string--and chaos ensues. But not for Hyacinth who floats free and unfettered and blissfully for the first time in her life.

And what of the boy with the kite? Well, let's just say he's quite the ingenious young lad and they soon become friends.

I love this book for its truly divine illustration but I also love it for its ridiculously subtle message that life may not always be perfect or fixable, but you can make the most of it, nonetheless.

A rollicking, fun and magical read for kids. Really really, gorgeous.

Title: Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated
Author: Florence Parry Heide
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Swazland, $38.99 RRP
Publication Date:
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9780375937538
For ages: 4 - 10
Type: Picture Book