The Practical Princessby Jay Williams
illustrated by Friso Henstra
Princess Bedelia was as lovely as the moon shining upon a lake, as graceful as a leaping cat, and she was also extremely practical. When a dragon moved into her neighborhood demanding a princess to devour, Bedelia’s practicality and self-preservation kicked into gear.
“Rubbish!” she said. “Dragons can’t tell the difference between princesses and anyone else. Use your common sense. He’s just asking for me because he’s a snob.”
She proceeded to defeat the bothersome dragon, outwit her conniving suitor, and rescue a prince sleeping under a spell while locked away at the top of a tall, magical tower with no stairs. Well ahead of its time when written back in 1969, this twist on the standard princess fairy tale gives young girls and boys a clever heroine to admire. Indeed, the author wrote this story for his grandson, Ben.
Friso Henstra collaborated with Jay Williams on nine picture books for children. In 1969 his quirky, memorable illustrations in The Practical Princess won the prestigious Golden Apple Award at the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava, one of the oldest international honors given to children’s book illustrators.
“Today, I sing the praises of reprints. I’ve seen a lot of them this year, and these are the standouts. A truly lovely creation, each and every one. Your bookshelves will be richer for having them. Years ago I first encountered a mention of The Practical Princess in Phil Nel’s Tales for Little Rebels, and I’ve wanted to see a copy of it ever since. Now it’s possible! Thanks to the workings of Purple House Press, this subversive bit of 1969 feminism is available once more for one and all to see. Enjoy it!”
—Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal
“In this original fairy tale, first published in 1969, the clever princess Bedelia vanquishes a dragon with her wits (Dragons, she said, are not very bright) well, her wits and a hundred pounds of gunpowder. When her feat attracts the unwanted attention of evil suitor Lord Garp, she not only dispatches him but also in a reversal of Rapunzel mixed with Sleeping Beauty rescues a handsome, if temporarily too-hirsute, prince. Williams’s lively and matter-offactly feminist text is accompanied by Henstra’s quirky crosshatched illustrations in jewel colors, full of pattern and motion. A welcome reissue, indeed.”
—Horn Book Magazine