Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Light Princess

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.)

Also by:
The Runaway Flying Horse
Bear Party
Otto in Texas


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  1. Lovely as always. BTW, Abebooks has a few copies of this one.

  2. George McDonald is one of my favorites. I haven't seen this illustrated version of "The Light Princess" before. Because I'm a huge Maurice Sendak fan, I think my favorite version of this book is this one:

  3. Love this author, but also have not seen this illustrated version before. Oh!! So lovely...

  4. Ahhh! How did I not know about this book? This is a little close to a PB I wrote, which I'm just starting to illustrate now. I guess it's different enough overall and seems to have a totally different message (from what I can see on Amazon) but this post definitely gave me a scare.

    Damn you collective unconscious!

    Anyway, thanks for bringing this to my attention.