Review by Tina Nguyen
Is The Worst Princess the worst book? Depends whom you ask. But I’m going to show you how this book is perhaps the best when it comes to telling a story about the worst princess.
This whimsical picturebook about friendly dragons and girl power features a princess who has spent her life locked away in a tower. Yearning to be free from her chains, the princess is entirely grateful when a prince comes to her rescue in shiny armor and on a handsome steed. To her dismay, she’ll find out that life with him isn’t what she imagined it to be. Told in rhyming couplets that offer a funny twist on what would otherwise be a clichéd story, The Worst Princess spins a tale on what it truly means to live life to the fullest. This crucial value is represented when the Princess would rather dally with a fiery dragon than spend a life surrounded by expensive dresses and fancy shoes.
Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations highlight the story’s dynamism by interweaving various compositional styles. Whether it’s a double-page spread illustration, multiple illustrations on a single page, or a traditional single-page spread, The Worst Princess manages to keep its readers entertained with its eye-catching colors, plethora of patterns, and its compelling use of lines in the illustrations. This whimsical artistry suits Anna Kemp’s lyrical writing perfectly as Kemp’s use of rhyming couplets and simple, yet charming words make for an overall heartwarming read. On account of the text and the illustrations being so amicable, the reader is able to follow the movement of the story and the actions of each character without trouble—something that wouldn’t have been possible if the story relied wholly on its text to carry it.
Through a combination of words and pictures, the book succeeds in presenting its heartwarming theme: Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back from living your life. Whether you live in a tower or have responsibilities as a princess, it’s your duty to live your life the way you envision it to be. Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie highlight this idea through textual and pictorial narratives that resonate with the literary knowledge of the book’s intended audience. So, is The Worst Princess the worst book? Depends whom you ask. I will probably not be alone to say that it’s the best picturebook book there can be to tell a story about the world’s worst princess.
The Worst Princess
by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Random House Children’s Books, 2012
Tina studies English and aspires to be an editor at a publishing firm for young adult fiction. She loves sushi and discovered that she has soft forearms.