________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 12. . . .November 19, 2010.


Ten Big Toes and a Prince's Nose.

Nancy Gow. Illustrated by Stephen Costanza.
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing (Distributed in Canada by Canadian Manda Group), 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.95.
ISBN 978-1-4027-6396-0.

Subject Headings:
Stories in rhyme.
Self-confidence-Fiction. Individuality-Fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Diana Lynn Wilkes.





There once was a princess so lovely and fair
With ruby red lips and a mane of brown hair.
Her voice was like honey, her smile soft and sweet...
...but the beautiful princess had gigantic feet.
Her feet were so large that each prince who dropped by
ran straight for the door. They would not even try
to find out how charming a princess can be -
for her gigantic feet were the first thing they'd see.

Now far, far away in our fanciful yarn,
there lived a young prince with a nose like a barn.
The prince loved to laugh.
He was bright like the sun.
He was warm, he was kind,
he was charming and fun.

But maidens rebuffed him.
They'd look at his beak
and say, "Oops, gotta run!"
before he would speak.
They never found out how much fun he could be
for a gigantic nose was
the first thing they'd see.

Ahhh. Ten Big Toes and a Prince's Nose is the classic tale of two unique people destined to fall in love - and a princess and prince, no less! Despite the predictable pattern, in this picture book Nancy Gow uses humour and sweet irony to deliver a message of positive self-esteem. Although they each have unfortunate physical features, each young royal has a loving parent who teaches them that it's okay to be who they are through the use of the song:

     I am what I am and that's all right with me. I don't have to be different, I just have to be. I don't want to be somebody else. No sir-ree! I am what I am and that's all right with me.

     The message is important for children to believe, but the delivery of it can often be didactic and/or syrupy in books for children. Although the wording of the song/message in this picture book is not as catchy a jingle as it might have been (for children to repeat in their own heads), Nancy Gow has ensured its intent is emphasized by the self-confident attitude of the characters that do not wallow in their unfortunate physical features. In fact, we see that big feet make excellent skis!

     internal artThe gorgeous illustrations by Stephen Costanza are romantic and magical in quality. The rich colours are radiant, and the curving lines flow and encircle in pleasing compositions. Both the young royals are illustrated with style and beauty and their unusual features are obvious but never grotesque--tender humour would be more like it. The illustrations offer straightforward support of the text and present predictable detailing - there are no surprises in the pictures, and there is comfort in that.

     Ten Big Toes and a Prince's Nose is a beautiful, classic fairytale that children of all ages will enjoy. Adults will feel confident that it presents a positive message about being happy with exactly who we are. The fact that the two young royals chance to find love and acceptance is simply a bonus.


Diana Lynn Wilkes has taught Kindergarten to grade 7 and visual arts for grades 8-10. She holds a B. Ed from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Arts degree in Children's Literature from the University of British Columbia. She writes and paints from her homes in Surrey, BC, and Nelson, New Zealand.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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