The Restless Girls

illus. by Angela Barrett. 160p. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2019. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781547600724.
Gr 4–6—The traditional tale of 12 princesses who secretly dance each night until their shoes are ruined is retold and fleshed out as an illustrated short novel. Each girl has a special talent ranging from artistic and agricultural to mechanical and botanical skills. After their fiercely supportive, sage mother's death, the girls are locked away by their father, the king; "not a bad man, but a lost one." Soon they discover a portal to a world behind a portrait of their mother, and they bravely going deeper into the magical realm headed by a wise lioness. In this version, it is the eldest sister, Frida, who proves that intellect and wisdom are enough to succeed. She leaves but returns to the kingdom in an airplane to assume leadership. This retelling includes more contemporary elements, while still offering a classic fairy-tale sensibility. The princesses are given names and particular skills though the only truly distinctive character is Frida. The richly described settings, however, make this a fine read aloud.
VERDICT A pleasant addition where contemporary fairy-tale retellings are in demand, especially those with a feminist viewpoint.

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