July 2010

The transformative powers of the imagination

By Naomi Howland
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The heroine of Princess Says Goodnight is an average young lady in an average family, with a mom, dad, older brother and sis, a cat and a dog, all of whom relax in their family room one evening and slump on their green plaid couch.

But ah, the transformative powers of imagination! As the tired and yawning parents escort their youngest to bed, she radiates energy in her pink tutu and socks, ready to dance the night away. She curtsies in the mirror, sees a gold crown atop her red locks and imagines herself “At the palace in the nighttime,” leaving the ball.

Naomi Howland’s simple, rhyming text transforms the little girl’s nightly ritual into something grand: “Will she hold a candelabra / while climbing up the stairs / and have a frothy glass of milk / with chocolate cream eclairs?”

This is every little girl’s dream come true, and David Small’s always delightful illustrations show the princess’ now-majestic bedroom, containing a four-poster gold bed with a purple canopy and bedspread. This princess’ entire family is also transformed; they are suddenly decked in royal attire. Look closely, and notice how the brother’s red-checkered pajamas transform so nicely into a jester’s outfit as he takes his sister’s lovely slippers away on a tray.

The house is, of course, completely changed into a fairy-tale castle, as the princess gazes out of one of its turreted towers. Who wouldn’t love a bathtub in the shape of a giant golden swan, with different towels for each toe?

The royal treatment continues, with a lullaby and story, but at the end of the evening, our princess is in need of one thing only: a kiss from her very own mom and dad, back in her own bed. Nothing is more comforting than that, after all.

Princess Says Goodnight is a sweet read for young princesses everywhere waiting to be tucked in.

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Princess Says Goodnight

Princess Says Goodnight

By Naomi Howland
ISBN 9780061455254

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