Pavo and the Princess
Evaline Ness ~ Charles Scribner's Sons ~ 1964
Ex-wife of the infamous prohibition agent, Eliot Ness, and an all around bad ass, Evaline Ness' books always surprise me. Her tight, minimal wood cuts are usually paired with stories that have some dark, sadness of childhood element, giving them a hint of gloomy in a two-color world. Super cool. Any book with a peacock as a main character is going to shine in this house, but beyond that, we have a story of a spoiled princess with cruelty in her heart who refuses to show weakness by crying.
The only person who loved the princess was her father (ouch), and her lack of tears worried and grieved him.
To test if her heart can be touched, he gifts his daughter his prized peacock, Pavo, and everything pretty much goes down hill from there. The resentment and anger inside the girl is so strong and deep, she begins to transfer her hatred for the world onto the poor bird, taunting him and tying up his feathers. Only when the bird flees does the princess taste remorse and the tears begin to flow. A book to prove the importance of getting emotions out and the essential nature of kindness in all of us, no matter how wounded our humanity might be.
Forever after that, Pavo and the Princess were never separated. With the King, they walked together every morning early. They played a new game together every afternoon, and they cried whenever they felt unhappy. On special occasions they cried just for the joy of it.
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