Gotcha! (Clotilde Perrin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Gotcha! by Clotilde Perrin, translated by Daniel Hahn, an interactive hide-and-seek tale about finding the courage to face down monsters.

On oversized pages and through various interactive elements, readers follow a young child in a gray bear onesie as they flee from various fearsome fairytale beasties. First, they take refuge from a hairball at the house of the three little pigs, then from a stinkwart in the witch’s gingerbread house, and finally from a creeper (not Minecraft) in Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Realizing that the monsters will only keep chasing if they run and hide, the child decides to stand up to their ferocity, and may find that monsters aren’t nearly as tough as they appear.

Dark and wonderful. From the grotesque character design to the clever layout of the lift-the-flap elements, this is the kind of interactive book that kids will devour with gusto. Appropriately fantastical text, including tongue-twisting antiquated words like collywobbler and pestilential, plus speech-bubble dialogue from the fairytale characters make for quite a few entertaining gags, especially when combined with the incredibly detailed environments. Adults be forewarned, however: there are definitely some dark elements in this French import, including what appears to be the remains of two villains – the witch and the hairball – cooked up in kitchen ovens; this tale is definitely for slightly older bookworms. Other than that, the length was fine for a storytime, and JJ loved the lift-the-flaps and sight gags. Overall, a delightfully demented fairytale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Maiden & Princess (Daniel Haack & Isabel Galupo)

Hello, friends! Our books today is Maiden & Princess, written by Daniel Haack and Isabel Galupo, and illustrated by Becca Human.

In this follow-up to Haack’s previous title, Prince & Knight (illustrated by Stevie Lewis), we are introduced to a young maiden as she overhears a royal announcement: the king and queen shall hold a ball so that their son, the prince, can find a suitable wife. The maiden is deeply conflicted about this; she is celebrated both for her beauty and courage in battle, and many of the royal subjects insist that the prince will choose her. She, however, only thinks of the prince as a friend and brother-in-arms. Not wanting to miss the ball, she dresses to the nines and attends, but is quickly overwhelmed by the attentions of the other partygoers. Stealing outside for some fresh air, she happens upon a beautiful lady. The two begin to talk, soon whiling away the hours in deep conversation. But a revelation by the king and queen may put a damper on their blossoming relationship; for the lady is not ordinary courtier, but the royal princess herself.

Lovely. Prince & Knight was one of our favorites from last year, so to see a similar tale told from a female perspective was a wonderful treat. Truly remarkable is the way the story manages to weave traditional fairytale romance with details that make it refreshingly modern and affirming. The battle maiden is not shunned for her courage or skill, but lauded for it; nor is it implied that fierce and strong girls can’t also enjoy “feminine” pursuits like getting dressed up. The princess is intelligent and studious, and these qualities are described as attractive and positive. Both women are drawn as being women of color with accurate, proportional body types, and both are described as stunningly beautiful for it. Even the reaction of the king and queen – one of joy and unwavering support of their daughter’s happiness – is a positive message of acceptance. The art is colorful, magical, and diverse, the length is great, and we loved this one. A beautiful fairytale for anyone who enjoys a heartwarming romance, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!