Russell Smith’s The Princess And The Whiskheads was simply fabulous. I loved Princess Juliana. She is such a believable female character. She is not a superwoman, nor is she a damsel in distress. Juliana may be the most beautiful woman in the land, but she has faults. This balance of virtues and faults are what make her relatable.
One of the funny things about trust is that it can be both a virtue and a fault, depending one how it is used. Princess Juliana trusted her advisors and the other nobles of the courts. She trusted them to treat the people fairly. She trusted them to do what was in the best interest of the kingdom. Then on her first venture into the city, she saw that horrible school. An ugly building, unfit for children, baring her name. She was horrified. One walk into the city and she learned so much.
The male characters were also quite interesting, especially the suitors. There is Lord Lucas, a handsome noble, who clearly wants to rekindle their childhood flame. Lord Bostock, the poet among the strapping nobles, also pursues the princess, as honestly as he can. Then there is Jan, the charming, mesmerizing peasant, a whiskhead. Juliana feels for them and they desire her. Will she end up with one of them? Who captures her heart? They are all present at the end of the tale.
Though the book calls itself a modern fairytale, I wouldn’t necessarily read it to young children. Let’s just say that there are a few “may not be appropriate for younger audiences” scenes. They are tastefully written and fit in well with the stories. However, if you’re reading this to a six-year-old, you might want to skip the word nipple (a couple times). It does have that fairytale sensibility though, making it a pleasure to read.