Book Title: Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror (available here)
Author: Natasha Farrant
Illustrator: Lydia Corry
Publication Date: September 2019
Reviewed by: Jayne Gould, Librarian
Fairy tales and traditional stories are used widely in primary schools, from introducing key stories to Reception classes through to older children writing alternative versions. The depiction of submissive princesses waiting to be rescued by handsome princes has been a concern for some time, with the publication of a number of novels and anthologies of forgotten stories seeking to redress the balance. This wonderful sequence of tales, created by author Natasha Farrant and exquisitely illustrated by Lydia Corry, is based very much on traditional themes with a twist. The princesses in these adventures are fierce, brave and determined to do the rescuing for themselves.
The stories are linked by a magic mirror, flung into our universe by an enchantress who wants to answer the question “what makes a princess excellent?”. After being asked to be godmother to the baby daughter of the king, she seeks the answer with help of her magic mirror, which cannot immediately answer. So, much to the dismay of the venerable mirror, she shrinks it to the size of a compact and sends it on a quest across continents and through the centuries. Each princess it encounters adds to its knowledge until its return to its mistress, in a place where time has run differently, before the naming day.
The girls in these stories refuse to submit to the usual perception of princesses being pretty, polite and obedient but each does learn valuable lessons. Heloise saves her sister and becomes a renowned healer, Leila the desert princess protects her people from a warring king and Tica tames a crocodile. A mountain princess puts kindness above herself, while a girl called Princess, who lives in a modern tower block, works with her friends to save their neighbourhood garden from city developers.
As the mirror explains, the realisation of their hopes and dreams come from within themselves, from their bravery to fight for what they cared about, their thirst for knowledge and their caring attitudes.
A beautiful book to share with a class.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jayne for reviewing it.
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