King Thrushbeard

illus. by Irina Dobrescu. 32p. NorthSouth Books. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735841925.
K-Gr 2—This unusual offering features a tale from the Brothers Grimm: a haughty princess who, after insulting and refusing every potential husband her father offers, is forced to marry a beggar. Dobrescu's distinctive watercolor illustrations use an exaggerated, caricature style reminiscent of Lauren Child, while the retelling features more formal language. Facial features are often minimized, placing the emphasis on clothing, sizing, and landscape details, but even the minimal detail communicates expression, and more detailed illustrations, such as the princess' cruel and callous expression upon her introduction, will inspire a shudder. The overall effect of the formal language and unusual art is sometimes emotionally distancing, but the rich language and painterly illustrations offer a worthy introduction to a lesser-known Grimm tale. Pair with "The Frog Prince" to foster discussions about self-centered princesses, and with Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans" to discuss humility and self-sacrifice.—Sarah Westeren, Richland Library, Columbia, SC
A snobbish princess, who will not deign to marry any of the noblemen presented to her by her father, must marry a beggar who tries to humble her in many ways. The surprise ending is satisfying, and the amusing illustrations, full of caricatures of royals and commoners alike, play off nicely against this story formally retold by an unnamed translator.

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