________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 4 . . . . October 19, 2001

cover As for the Princess? A Folktale from Quebec.

Stephane Jorisch.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2001.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $6.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-694-2 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-695-0 (cl.).

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Val Nielsen.

***1/2 /4



"Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a father left his three sons very unusual legacies. The oldest received a sack with 100,000 gold pieces, the second a horn that could summon 100,000 soldiers in a jiffy, and the youngest an old leather belt."

Naturally, the belt is a magic one, and, when Simon puts it on and wishes to see the beautiful Princess in the castle over the mountain, he is whooshed there before he can consider his brother's dire warning about the true nature of the princess. Of course, as every child knows, princesses are supposed to be as good as they are beautiful. Such is not the case, however, in Stephane Jorisch's As for the Princess? a wickedly funny adaptation of the traditional Quebec folk tale, "La Princesse au grande nez." In this story, the Princess is mean, arrogant and greedy. In fact, as Simon's brother repeatedly tells him, she is a thoroughly "baaaad apple." Her royal nastiness manages to trick Poor Simon into surrendering his special gift, the brothers' legacies, each time he visits the castle. After his third defeat, our hero happens onto a devilishly clever plan to trick the greedy Princess into returning her ill-gotten gains.

     Jorisch is a gifted artist and illustrator who has received many honours for his previous books, including a Governor General's award in 1993, nominations for that same award in 1995, 1997 and 1998, and two nominations for the Mr. Christie Book awards. Readers who have enjoyed the sly textual humour and visual jokes which abound in Jorisch's recent picture books, The Magic Mustache (1999) and The Trial of the Stone (2000), will not be disappointed in As for the Princess? A Folktale from Quebec. The author's crazily surreal characters splashed across the pages in exuberant watercolours will have readers of all ages chuckling. Young listeners will enjoy speculating on what Jorisch could possibly mean with his illustration on the last page of the story. As for the Princess? will make an enjoyable read-aloud for primary students as well as being a welcome addition to the elementary library's collection of Canadian folk tales.

Highly Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364