roll out the red carpet!…a list of five tales replete with royalty

king arthur's very great grandson cover image kraegelKing Arthur’s Very Great Grandson, written and illustrated by Kenneth Kraegel

Henry Alfred Grummorson is the great-great-great…insert many greats here…grandson of the famous, beloved King Arthur. Little wonder, then, that upon turning six years old, Henry yearns for an adventure of his own.

Off he gallops on his trusty donkey, seeking a fire-breathing Dragon to conquer. And indeed! He comes upon a most scaly, gorgeous and terrible Dragon! “BEHOLD, VILE WORM! I HENRY ALFRED GRUMMORSON, A KNIGHT OF KING ARTHUR’S BLOOD, DO king arthur's very great grandson illustration kenneth kraegelHEREBY CHALLENGE YOU TO A FIGHT TO THE UTTERMOST!” Henry announces.

This dragon, however, does not prove satisfactorily terrible. On the contrary, Henry’s tremendous moxie is not tested in the least.  Rats.

The dragon tells Henry of another beast, perhaps possessing much more spunk, so Henry races on. In the end, Henry tracks down four magnificent beasts before he meets his match, and meanwhile, he finds something else even better. What could it be?

This winning story ought to please nearly everyone ages 4 and up! A likeable hero on a zesty quest, scads of adventure, and a charming ending, all told in delightful, knights-in-shining-armor language.  Kraegel’s ink and watercolor illustrations burst with warm color, gorgeous line – just look at those trees! — imaginative landscapes and a passel of mythical monsters you’d love to have living next door. A new favorite of mine! Don’t miss it.

the queen of france cover image kady macdonald dentonThe Queen of France, by Tim Wadham, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Rose feels a titch royal this morning, so she dresses the part – copious jewels, plenty of pink and floof, and voila! She is the Queen of France.

Pirouetting out to the garden, she introduces herself to her mother, who plays along quite gamely. No, mother says, she hasn’t seen a sign of Rose yet today.  The Queen chats amiably with this Gardener until she pricks her finger on a thorn and hurries the queen of france illustration kady macdonald dentonoff to find the Royal Physician — a fellow who remarkably resembles Rose’s father.

Pleased with how her day is going,  the Queen offers  to trade places permanently with Rose. Rose’s mother considers this – she wants to be sure someone at the castle will read stories to Rose and kiss her when she’s hurt. She and Rose’s father will miss Rose terribly, she tells the Queen.

Hmmm… Is it better to be Queen, and not ever have to clean her own room? or to be Rose? Rose’s answer will warm your heart.

This is a sweet, imaginative, affectionate story. Children often turn into various personages, of course, requiring much good-natured playing along.  At the end of the day, though, it’s good to belong, to be loved, and missed, and wanted for oneself.

Kady MacDonald Becker treats us to heaps of charming, playful watercolors featuring plenty of cotton candy pink, and a genteel sprinkling of glitter on the cover.  Despite all the tutus and parasols, bangles and baubles, Rose leaps off the page with pluck, good humor, and aplomb. An engaging book for little girls, ages 4 and up.

the prince won't go to bed cover image brookerThe Prince Won’t Go to Bed!, by Dayle Ann Dodds, pictures by Kyrsten Brooker

The King and Queen are at the ball this evening and Nanny’s been left in charge of the small-but-determined prince. She’s already allowed him plenty of time to careen about the castle, so when she plunks him in his bed, she gives him strict instructions to Go To Sleep!

But “the teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, little Prince” only roars out his displeasure! Waa! Waa! Waa! I will the prince won't go to bed illustration kyrsten brookernot go to bed! Oh dear!

Old Lord Gerty gives it a try, as does Squire Frat, Cook, the Royal Guard and Lady Lorali, but no matter how soft the mattress or tasty the pudding, the prince just keeps wailing when he’s left in his bed!

Enter Princess Kate – the big sister. And what do you know? She knows exactly what to do!

This humorous, energetic story is told in rollicking rhyme, with a vigorous, repeating, wail from the prince that kids will love to chime in on! Kyrsten Brooker’s mixed media illustrations feature rich, royal colors and sumptuous fabrics, lutes and pikes and golden candlesticks , offset by the comical faces and desperate positions of the beleaguered castle courtiers.

It’s a wonderful wild rumpus with a sweet ending that will want to be read again and again. Ages 3 and up.

ella's big chance a jazz age cinderella cover image shirley hughesElla’s Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes (officially Orange Marmalade’s favorite children’s author ever) has retold the Cinderella story, setting it in a marvelous Great-Gatsby world of shimmery flapper gowns, strings of pearls, swanky hotel lobbies, and luxurious limousines.

Our heroine, Ella, works in her father’s dressmaking shop, assisted by a “lively lad called Buttons.” Buttons wears a dashing uniform in which he gallantly opens the door for customers and delivers packages on his sweet cargo bicycle. Oh, and chats with Ella every chance he can get.

Ella’s father, Mr. Cinders, has unhappily remarried. His new, domineering wife, and her ellas' big chance illustration shirley hughesobnoxious daughters, Rose and Pearl, make life miserable for Ella. Only Buttons can cheer her.

Then comes the fateful day. The duchess is giving a ball for her son. As you well know, Ella’s step-sisters require perfectly stitched fashions for themselves, while Ella is not allowed to attend. Buttons kindly tries to comfort Ella, but lo! her Fairy Godmother appears and in a twinkling outfits Ella for an elegant evening. Whoosh! The handsome duke is smitten. The glass slipper is lost. The duke is in anguish until he finds That Girl.

Then, with Buttons sadly looking on, the duke tenderly entreats Ella to marry him. What will she do?

Ah, this is such a sweet, satisfying rendition of Cinderella! Besides that, Shirley Hughes has a ball with lavish costume designs on every page, luxurious interiors, jazzy color, and as always, personality pouring forth from her characters’ postures and expressions. I adore this book, and hopeless romantics as young as 7 or 8 will love it, too!

king bidgood's in the bathtub cover image woodKing Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

As dawn breaks over the kingdom, one small page plods up the castle staircase, lugging an enormous wooden ewer of water for the king’s bath.

The king mightily enjoys this bath. In fact, he won’t get out of the tub. Our trusty page calls out for help — Can anyone get the king out of the bathtub?!

The Knight offers first. “It’s time to battle!” he cajoles the king. But the king proposes an elaborate battle in the tub instead! Dozens of tin soldiers and cavalry march along the rim. An entire flotilla of sailing ships and smaller craft bob among frothy waves of soap bubbles. A soaring bridge with turrets and pennants spans the massive tub. As the page pours more gallons of water in the tub, the merry king and his fully armored knight do battle…in the tub.

This crazy day wears on with one after another of the courtiers trying to coax the king out of the bathtub. Each time, the tub is instead transformed into elaborate settings for the king bidgood's in the bathtub illustration don woodproposed activities — lunch, trout fishing, even a masquerade ball. Whatever can be done to get that king out of the bathtub?!

Merry, rhythmic dialogue comprises this hilarious story that’s a Swanson family favorite. The story is simply told, and has such a clever ending. Meanwhile, Don Wood won a Caldecott Honor for his superb illustrations. Wow! There is so much to see here. Most striking may be the fantastical bathtub scenes that will tickle your funny bone and dazzle your imagination. Look again, though, because the lighting of each scene, the fabulous Renaissance costumes, the dramatic expressions and postures, the sopping wet courtiers, and that hard-working page are all there for you to pore over.

A classic now (from 1985) this one should definitely not be missed.