Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book three hundred and fifty-four

For the past sixteen years I have been living with a chronic illness, and at times figuring out how to cope with it is tiresome in the extreme. I cannot live my life the way I used to, and have to make many adjustments and concessions that I find annoying.

Today's picture book is about a little princess who also has a troublesome physical challenge. In her case, she floats, and this means that she cannot do what other children take for granted. I found this story delightfully amusing, and it reminded me that one can overcome almost anything, if one is creative. Having a sense of humor also helps.

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated)Princess Hyacinth (the surprising tale of a girl who floated)
Florence Parry Heide
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2009, 978-0-375-84501-7
   In most ways, Princess Hyacinth is a very ordinary little girl. She has brown hair and “the usual arrangement” of features on her face. In short, if you looked at her, you would have no idea that Princess Hyacinth has a problem, a problem that has to resolution.
   Princess Hyacinth floats. The only way to keep her on the ground is to weigh her down with a heavy crown, golden weights in the hems of her dresses, and “little diamond pebbles sewn into the tops of her socks.” As soon as she takes the special garments and her crown off, Princess Hyacinth floats “up, up, up.”
   In the palace, Princess Hyacinth can “take off her royal stuff” and float around freely, but if she wants to go outside, she has to wear the full paraphernalia and it is very galling. More than anything, Princess Hyacinth wants to float around outside. She also wishes she could run around outside like the children who come to play in the grounds of her home.
   One day Princess Hyacinth gets an idea. There is a way for her to be outdoors after all. It never occurs to her that her plan might not work, and that she might end up floating “up, up, up” into the open sky where there is nothing to stop her.
   With a deliciously funny story and Lane Smith’s amusing illustrations, this picture book will charm children with its quirkiness. Young readers will enjoy imagining what it would be like to be Hyacinth. How would they try to live a ‘normal’ life if they too floated above the ground?

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