Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Secret Lives of Princess by Philippe Lechermeier and Rebecca Dautremer

The Secret Lives of Princesses
by Philippe Lechermeier,
illus. by Rebecca Dautremer
Copyright 2010 by Sterling Kids
Originally published in France, 2004
92 pages, incl. glossary and index

Princesses!!! What could be more fun for little girls than a book that is essentially an encyclopedia of princesses? I knew I wanted to review this book the moment I first saw that gorgeous cover, above. Couldn't you just stare at that cover illustration, forever?

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.

The Secret Lives of Princesses made me wish I had a little girl. It's just wonderful. My sister-in-law has two little girls, so I'm sure I'll end up dragging this whopping fine book with me, when next we flee to Colorado. The real question is whether or not I'll ever see it, again. Well, one can only hope.

Bottom line:

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!!


  1. I would read it to my boys for fun! lol I might recommend this book to a friend of mine who has a little girl. :)


  2. Krista,

    I know one of my boys would have rejected the book on the basis of too much pink, but I'm not certain about the other. It's such a fun book! Definitely mention it to anyone you know with a little girl.

  3. Looks like a book my daughter would absolutely love!

  4. Jeane,

    I can't imagine a little girl not enjoying this book, but then I was kind of a girly girl and princesses were definitely my thing! LOL

  5. This sounds like a completely fun and light read! :) Great review!

  6. Birdy,

    It's totally fun, but there's a LOT crammed into those 92 pages, so it'll keep a girl occupied for a good, long time (even an old girl, like me). :)

  7. Great review! I too really enjoyed this book and so have my daughters!!

  8. Stephanie,

    Thanks! I kenw your daughters enjoyed it -- I read your review. I'm in lurker mode, right now, and didn't comment but I loved your review. :)

  9. I am ordering this one straight-away! For me. Of course, I will read it to the grands when they visit...if they are very, very good.

  10. Jenclair,

    You sound like me - I need no excuse to own a good children's book (although it's nice to have one).

  11. My son and daughter both enjoyed this book.


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