I was not disappointed. When I received a spiral-bound galley of the The Secret Lives of Princesses, I did nothing but ogle the illustrations, which are just as stunning as expected. I opted to save the reading till closer to the release date and then . . . read it in plenty of time and zipped right past the release date without reviewing. But, that's okay because it's still available! Of course it is; the release date was not that long ago -- June 1.
The Secret Lives of Princesses is a very eccentric book. Oh, those French; they are so funny. The author skips right past the usual princesses, making oblique references to well-known characters who were bruised by peas and slept for 100 years and creating dozens of wildly original new characters. One of my favorites is Princess Somnia, partly because I love the beautiful pink portrait of a snoozing princess and partly because I covet her "three-masted four poster" bed. It looks like a ship. Yes, I would definitely love to sleep in a three-masted four poster. No doubt about it.
Readers will fall in love with Princess Paige, a princess who reads "everything she can find: novels, poetry, philosophy and tall tales," and may recognize Princess Babbling Brooke, who chatters incessantly. In the illustration of Babbling Brooke, words are flying from the end of her bullhorn. I think we've all met her (or a close relation) a time or two, whilst trying to read. The illustrations are breathtaking; I just can't admire them enough.
In addition to illustrations and descriptions of each princess, there are other royal things to pore over: a page of "Coats of Arms and Flags", a two-page labeled tower spread with a brief description of how to become a queen, a map of where the princesses live, a "Practical Guide: Everything you need to know about princesses"; and my personal favorite, a page of "Palaces and Residences". Had I owned this book as a child, I would have tried to duplicate my favorite palaces in some manner, probably using cardboard, paint, foil, brads and construction paper. And, lots of glue.
A stunningly illustrated, eccentric, delightful book of princesses that is big enough to plop on a coffee table. And, by golly, I'd do that if I owned a coffee table. Sadly, I don't. It'll stay in a prominent place until I get to see my nieces, though. Highly recommended.
Grateful, nose-scraping-the-dirt, huggy-gushy thanks to Sterling Kids for my gorgeous, drool-worthy review copy!!