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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Review: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle

princess 300x255 Review: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. WhiffleThe Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Pat Rothfuss. Illustrated by Nate Taylor. Subterranean Press. 2010. Copy borrowed from Chasing Ray.

The Plot: Once upon a time, there was a Princess who lived in a marzipan castle.” So this fairy tale begins. End at one place, and you smile; end at another, and you are afraid; end at a third, and there is teeth. You are warned: “This is not a book for children.”

The Good: I read Colleen’s review at Chasing Ray and was terribly intrigued; I like picture books that are different, that have an edge, that are for older readers. The Princess delivers all of that, and more.

The Princess lives alone, except for her teddy bear, Mr. Whiffle. Cheery black and white illustrations show the Princess, alone making her own meals and playing with Mr. Whiffle and her other stuffed animals. She is happy, imaginative, alone, but alone with her toys, much like Christopher Robin. Pay attention, Reader. The black and white illustrations are the first clue that this book isn’t for children; it’s not the bright colors of a children’s book.

The only dark spot in The Princess’s life is the thing under the bed.

It’s something, isn’t it, how a story shifts depending on when you stop telling it? Oh, not just the end, but the message, also. The way you see the characters. Whether you walk away laughing — as you do if you stop reading The Princess at it’s first ending — or afraid –as you after the second ending — or resigned to truth, as you do after the third ending — well, it all depends on when you want the story to end. Do you want to live happy? Afraid? Or with the truth? That is the second clue that this book isn’t for children. A truthful ending is neither happy nor hopeful. It’s just true. And with teeth.

Once the truth is revealed, reread the book. Pay attention to the illustrations, the pictures that an adult reading would have skimmed, barely glanced at in their rush to read the words. A child reading along (reading along despite the warning not to) may have noticed, may have tried to point out — look at the walls. Look at what is on the poles. Look, look, look. And been shushed. Yes, the illustrations are the third clue.

This is not a book meant for children. Well, not unless your name is John Winchester and your children are Sam and Dean.

Is this a book for teens? Yes. And is it a book that will be a bit of a difficult purchase for libraries? Yes; but only because there will be people who look at it and shelve it in the wrong place, and it’ll be hard to get it to the “right” reader.

This is a book about story and how to tell it; it is a book to give nightmares; and it’s a book for any adult who likes their story in graphic format.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Liz
    We haven’t got this title in our catalogue yet (Christchurch City Libraries, NZ), but I might just have to put in a request to buy. It sound intriguing. And I have to admit – I never expected to see a reference to the Winchester boys in an SLJ review – that made me smile :-)

  2. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Sarah, I was wondering if people would understand that or wonder “huh, John who?” I’m so excited for the upcoming season.

  3. Sarah says:

    Liz,
    So, well, yeah, I’ve only just spotted your reply. Duh! So, what do you think of the season so far? I wasn’t so sure about it start with (which has never happened before), but I have definitely warmed to it now. I did love the last ep (Clap Your Hands If You Believe). And although RoboSam does add an interesting slant to the story, I am missing Sammy (and I’m a true blue DeanGirl).

    I usually try not to mix my SPN obsession with my work life (I mean, I’m sure there’s something wrong with reading Reckless and thinking “this is just like Sam & Dean”) but it is so nice to find a fellow fan in the libs :-)

  4. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    I am missing “real” Sam and looking forward to his return. Jared Padlecki is doing a good job, I think, in conveying the little ways that make this Sam different.

    Reckless — HA. I confess, when I picture people in my head for books, brothers and supernatural? The Winchesters. Spunky girl? Buffy. Girl investigating mystery? Veronica Mars.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] that make Liz happy.) You may recognize the publisher from the not-for-children picture book, The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. (Which, by the way, my ten year old niece [...]

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