Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Princesses and Firefighters.

This week was a bumper crop for books, having gone *slightly* overboard last week on ordering books. I'd read an interview with Dashka Slater about her book Dangerously Ever After and had to have it. I have a real disliking to 'Princesses' and all the Pink Passiveness that comes along with them (because all your problems will be solved waiting for your Prince to come, right?) so a book that could knock that idea on the head had to be in our library. The turnaround time was quite long on these from Amazon, so I got in touch with Dashka through her website. It turns out that only only one of her books has a UK publisher, and sadly for me, it wasn't the one I was looking for. Not prepared to wait for weeks, I worked some google magic and less than a week later there's not one, but two Dashka Slater books on our bookshelf.

Dangerously Ever After is the story of Princess Amanita, who loves dangerous things, especially the dangerous plants that she grows in her garden. They are all spikes and stings, wonderfully illustrated by Valeria Docampo, who balances so well her drawings of the Princess - being a fan of dangerous stuff doesn't mean she has to be boyish, you can still wear dresses and have a pet cat you know. This Princess is just herself. I like that. Abigail decided to ask me at this point why the Princess liked dangerous stuff, 'it's just like you like zombies and Jack [the Pumpkin King]' I told her. To which she replied, 'but I don't like zombies, they're scareeeey!'. This from the girl who keeps asking if there is a My Little Pony 'Zombies' episode...
We got back to the book, and enjoyed following Amanita meeting Prince Florian, who was more than a little confused by Amanita's 'nice sword' reply to his complimenting her flowers. A misunderstanding folllows, and Amanita sets off to find the young Prince. She gets lost and scared, as Princesses often do, but she uses her instinct and finds her way to her neighbour's castle. Amanita and Florian form a friendship where they both appreciate their differences. No-one has to change who they are to be friends, and that is a great lesson.

The second book we read was Firefighters in the Dark, this time illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli. Abigail's Granda Dave is a firefighter, so I think she was sucked in from there. A little girl lives opposite a fire station and tells us all about the firefighters do and the fires they fight. Any grown-up who is a fan of magic realism (I'm have to declare I'm a card-carrying Angela Carter Fan) will enjoy the fantasy of the girl's dreams mixed with the visits she has had to the fire station in real life. Kids will enjoy the fantastical dreams and the wild imagination of the illustrations. There are fires started by dragons and little boys who have jumped so high they have to be rescued from space, all told with a dash of humour. Dashka integrates this with the real bravery and seriousness of a firefighter's job in an informative but not frightening manner. She also has male and female, black and white firefighters, done in the best way you can, by just presenting it as normal. Abigail really loved this book it's a definite keeper for her. And me? I loved it too because it lets a little girl dream of being whatever she wants to be.

It's a real shame that these don't have a publisher in the UK. It's our loss.

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