So, we all know the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea, right? She shows up at a castle late one night in the middle of a snowstorm. The prince falls in love with her beauty (evident even under the wet, bedraggled appearance), but the king and queen want to make sure she is a real princess. So, they put a single pea under a pile of 20 feather mattresses and wait to see if she notices. And, sure enough, the real princess emerges in the morning bruised and sore from the tiny pea. The prince and princess get married and live happily ever after. Except...well, did you ever think what it would be like to live with someone like that? Someone who couldn’t even stand a pea under her mattress? What about when she was hot? Disappointed? Challenged by some problem?
The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas, by Tony Wilson, takes the traditional Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and stands it on its head. Prince Henrik doesn’t like the idea of marrying a princess who is sensitive. His brother is married to a very real, very high-maintenance princess who complains day and night about things that don’t suit her. Frankly, it’s a drag being around her, let alone married to her.
Prince Henrik really just wants someone who likes hockey and camping and has a nice smile. So he puts a number of would-be girlfriends to the test, putting a whole packet of frozen peas under a thin camping mattress. His future bride will take this in stride, without complaints. However, girl after girl fails his test...until his friend Pippa comes over to hang out.
This is a sweet take on being authentic to both yourself and in the face of others’ expectations. It also has a refreshing take on the whole girly-princess cliché, which I am happy to share with my three daughters. If you like this book, you may also like The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch.