CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 2 . . . . September 9, 2011
Grace is at the beach with her parents who warn her to watch out for "the blue jellyfish." As the family is swimming in the ocean, a seagull warns that the blue jellyfish is nearby (which Daddy tells Princess Grace is a Man-of-War). Although her parents are frightened, Grace calls her friends – the pink jellyfish – and they come and rescue the whole family.
There is a lot of repetitive dialogue, and consequently not much happens in the plot beyond the family goes out, sees jellyfish, and comes back in to shore.
Publicity surrounding the book indicates that it is about addressing or getting over children's fears about jellyfish. But Grace was never afraid – her parents were. And there is nothing which actually addresses how to alleviate legitimate fears children may have. The family simply gets carried back to shore by the non-stinging jellyfish. Nor is there any reason provided to admire or appreciate jellyfish beyond the fact that they are pink.
Illustrated in watercolour, the pictures throughout the book are not consistent. Some pages, the ones with just scenery, are beautiful enough to want to frame and hang on a wall. Jane Moseley's talent as an artist has been honed over many years. Yet, it is still apparent that the book has been illustrated by someone who does this as a hobby. The illustrations with people in them, done as sketches, look rough and unpolished.
The words "Princess Grace" always appears in blue, a few sizes larger than the rest of the text. "Jellyfish" is in pink. Both are in a curly-cue style. It is a jarring and unnecessary use of a fanciful font. Usually, when the font changes in a book, it is to enhance the story, to give the reader an indication of how to read the word and give it an inflection. Or, it is to highlight key vocabulary words. "Princess Grace" hardly qualifies as something to be highlighted on every page for emergent readers.
Other than identifying one kind of jellyfish, the Man-of-War, this book does little to impart any useful information about jellyfish beyond "they sting you with their tentacles." All we know is that Mommy and Daddy are frightened of them. Grace's solution, to call her pink jellyfish friends to rescue them from the bad blue Man-of-War, is imaginative but confusing as no explanation is given as to whether some jellyfish are harmful while others are safe, or what the difference is. It is mentioned that the pink ones don't sting, but what kind are "the pink ones"?
Ultimately, Princess Grace and the Jellyfish feels like the kind of story parents make up for their children at bedtime, the kind that is about that particular child, where it doesn't matter what happens because they just like being the hero of the story. And, really, that's exactly what this is: a lovely story from a grandmother to a granddaughter. As a keepsake for Grace, it's a beautiful treasure. As a book that will be enjoyed by children who are unrelated to Jane Moseley, Princess Grace and the Jellyfish is one that can be skipped.
Barb Janicek is a Children's Librarian with Kitchener Public Library, in Kitchener, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.