CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 13 . . . . February 28, 2003
Princess Backwards, by British Columbia author Jane Gray, is an example of a picture book idea that doesn't quite convince. The idea behind the book is that the princess lives in a kingdom where everyone performs backwards--walks backwards, shoots backwards, eats their dinner in the morning and their breakfast at night, etc. The princess, however, is different. Because she likes to do things in a forward manner, she is criticized for being strange. When a dragon menaces the palace, the princess is justified as the archers cannot shoot their arrows fast enough since they are looking over their shoulders, and only the princess, who runs forward, can reach the dragon in time.
idea of a reverse kingdom is amusing and could have been successful
if it had been completely consistent. But it's not. The princess'
name is "Fred" rather than a girl’s name because it
is "backwards." Why not call her "Refinnej" or
"Amme" and make it truly reversed? When the dragon approached
the town, the townspeople are shown running away. But they don't appear
to be running backwards; several, including the animals, are clearly
running forwards. The dragon, who keeps advancing, obviously doesn't
adhere to the rules either.
Perhaps another problem is that this book is obviously designed to teach a moral. Consider the final sentences:
Helen Norrie writes the monthly “Children's Books” column for the Winnipeg Free Press. She has taught children's literature courses at the University of Manitoba .
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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.