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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Princess's Blankets - Carol Ann Duffy (Picture Book)



Released November 2009


Reviewed by Bob Walch

Princess stories continue to be popular and Carol Ann Duffy's addition to this category of children's books is interesting, although it may be a bit too "edgy" for young children.

The princess featured here is always cold. In fact, she is so cold she never leaves her bed and the king has offered to reward a person in any manner he or she chooses if the individual can stop his daughter from feeling so cold.

At this point a dark stranger with magical powers appears to accept the challenge and win the princess's hand. Fearing his cold, stony eyes and leery of his aloof demeanor, the girl is not overly anxious to cooperate with this individual who may be able to banish the cold that has plagued her.

 Each time he asks, "How cold do you feel?" the princess responds by comparing the cold she feels to either the ocean, the forest, a mountain and then the earth itself. The stranger's response each time is to provide her with a blanket made from elements of each of these things. And, each time, the girl feels even colder.

Disgusted, the stranger eventually leaves and is replaced by a humble musician. Will he have the power to rid her of the chill she feels?


The illustrations that accompany this tale are very "atmospheric" and would be more at home in an exhibition of modern or surrealist paintings than in a children's picture book. This exploration of the depths of human fears, frailty and love combined with the unusual illustrations makes this a book better suited to older children or adults. The publisher suggests the appropriate age group is five and up. I disagree! Because of the content which merits some discussion, I'd say nine or ten years of age up through high school would be a better fit.

1 comment:

  1. I agree; I'm seventeen and this is quite at home on my bookshelf. In terms of the artwork as well as Duffy's contribution.

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