The Second Adventures of Princess Peony is the second book in Nette Hilton’s Princess Peony series for five-year-old readers.
Hilton takes us once again into Princess Peony’s imaginative world of pretend play, to her royal garden (the backyard) with the Troll (her brother) and pet dragon, Totts (her dog). There is also a castle (her house) and a Queen (her mum) for princess fans. Hilton certainly knows how to capture the heart of childhood role play — the wonder, the dressing up, the possibilities, and the dramas that ensue when play doesn’t go according to plan.
In her latest adventure, the Troll taunts her and interrupts her princess world – “You’re waiting for a Prince,” – though Princess Peony insists most certainly otherwise, “Trolls don’t know anything, if you really want to know.” The Troll even goes so far as to challenge her legitimacy of being a “Proper Princess”, which Peony proves otherwise by following Princess etiquettes of being “kind and gentle” in attempts to ignore her brother’s jibes. Eventually, the Troll’s persistent pestering pushes the sweet princess to her breaking point – is shouting against Princess Rules?
The Troll ‘helps’ Princess Peony find a prince anyway, and has much fun catching a frog, which turns out to be a toad. The backfiring snowballs, with Princess Peony triumphing right about the time the Troll kisses a frog’s bottom in order to remain a Troll (which he very much prefers).
The cover’s emphasis on princess and bright splashes of pink are eye-catching, but thankfully, the book is refreshingly far from the typical princess story, and boys may identify with the cheeky cajoling of Princess Peony’s brother.
Even if your little one is into all things princessy but you aren’t, The Second Adventures of Princess Peony will satisfy you both. There is an additional multiple-choice Princess Quiz at the back of the book; readers will have a lot of fun discovering their princess personality (they are all great)!
Gifford’s lively grey illustrations are contrasted with gorgeous, royal pink and purple child-like scribbles. The ever-changing expressions of the characters will give many a gasp and giggle (I happen to have witnessed this first-hand). Gifford’s varying of font size and style, as well as the balance of text with illustrations, keep emerging readers engaged and encouraged to read on – most likely over a few sittings due to the length of the story and size of the book, making it a cross between picture book and early chapter book.
With its bright royal endpapers and thick, durable pages, this quality book is perfect for gifting as an introduction to early chapter books.
Michelle Wanasundera is a children’s book reviewer and writer based in the Blue Mountains. She has recently self-published her first picture book, Bubbles and Puddles. You can view Michelle’s reviews on her blog. She is also on Facebook and Twitter.