The kingdom was once a beautiful place. Lush trees were home to singing birds. People lived prosperous, contented lives. The palace was a busy, happy place. But then the queen passed away, leaving behind her husband, the king, and three daughters. The entire land felt her loss. The countryside became barren, animals grew thin with hunger, and birds could no longer sing. Before she died, the queen asked each daughter to choose an object of hers “to remember her by.” The princesses Suzanna, Miranda, and Serenity selected, respectively, shiny red shoes, an elaborately-decorated mirror, and a plain wooden box containing simple but meaningful items, including an apple pip.
Time passes, and the king summons his daughters. He tells them that he wishes them to accomplish something that will be a source of pride. In this way, the elderly monarch will know who will best rule the kingdom after he is gone. With seven days and nights to complete their tasks, the princesses get to work. Suzanna and Miranda construct magnificent towers, but Serenity produces something much less impressive: a seedling from the apple pip. When the king views his daughters’ handiwork, he chooses his successor. Which princess has shown herself worthy to inherit the crown?
From the beginning, the reader is drawn into the tale: “Let me tell you a story about something that happened a long time ago in a land far from here…” Jane Ray’s eloquent writing simply yet elegantly brings the characters (human and animal) and events to life. Colorful illustrations by the author, many of which form a border around the text, add to the charm. The fact that the princesses are African American is a nice touch and helps make the story something more than “just another” princess book. Perfect for reading aloud and reading alone, this one is sure to be enjoyed again and again. Ages 5-8
Published by Candlewick in 2008
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