The Light Princess
George MacDonald ~ William Pène du Bois
Thomas Y. Crowell, 1962
Since it's Tuesday and there is still so much to be done, I'll cut right to the chase. In this Scottish fairy tale, a young princess is cursed by an evil aunt and loses her gravity...
When the strange fact came to be known, there was a terrible commotion in the palace. The occasion of its discovery by the king was naturally a repetition of the nurse's experience. Astonished that he felt no weight when the child was laid in his arms, he began to wave her up and-- not down; for she slowly ascended to the ceiling as before, and there remained, floating in perfect comfort and satisfaction, as was testified by her peals of tiny laughter.
The words by the poet master seem almost ancient compared to today's language, yet they spin a wondrous tale of romance and mystery. When the princess grows up both light in body and heart, a young prince woos her and vows to bring her back to earth through her tears. Alas, the evil aunt seems set on foiling their plans. When she discovers that the princess loves the water because in it, she is normal again, the aunt sets in motion a series of events that have our fair prince nearly sacrificing his own life to make the princess happy. Fantastic.
Accompanied by fabulous du Bois illustrations, I love reading books like this to my son, for no other reason than to teach him to love things more complex and poetic. (Side note, the story was also illustrated famously by Maurice Sendak AND is currently being developing as a musical by the British National Theatre, with Tori Amos writing the music. Wow.)
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