The Princess and the Paradise Garden

The princesses in De prinses en de paradijstuin (The Princess and the Paradise Garden) couldn’t care less about royal etiquette. Instead of marrying a prince, they’d rather have a swineherd or a stable lad. And when their eyes do happen to fall on a majestic specimen, they always seem to be lazy good-for-nothings or have bandy legs.

Children's books
Dolf Verroen

Dolf Verroen is the author of this read-aloud book full of princess stories, which cheerfully mocks the conventions of the traditional fairytale. As the genre requires, Verroen’s princesses are destined to marry rich princes, but the road to the altar takes some strange twists and turns. This is mainly the fault of the princesses themselves, some of whom are rather unconventional. One is bald, while another is an argumentative shrew. Finding a suitable prince for that kind of princess is certainly a challenge! No wonder the royal fathers in this light-hearted fairytale parody spend a lot of their time moaning and groaning.

Illustrator Thé Tjong-Khing, who received the prestigious Max Velthuijs prize for his oeuvre, is in his element with these stubborn royal ladies. The characters seem to be frozen mid-action in his tableau-vivant-like scenes. And it’s a delight to see the beautifully grouchy expressions that he puts on those regal faces.

Funny fairytales form an apprenticeship for literature.

de Volkskrant
Dolf Verroen
Dolf Verroen (b. 1928) is a grand old man of Dutch children’s literature. His first children’s book came out in 1957 and sixty years later he has more than a hundred titles to his name, a number of which have won Zilveren Griffel awards.
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