Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

When were you last a princess?

Posted on | February 6, 2012 | 15 Comments

As it happens, I spent much of the weekend being a princess.

M and J too – although, perhaps technically that meant that I was the queen?

Either way we’ve been living it up like only princesses do, testing our sensitivity by sleeping on mattresses and quilts piled almost as high as the ceiling.

In fact we had 4 mattresses, 6 quilts and (because we’re modern princesses) 5 duvets. Oh, and 1 pea.

Our royal highnesses can thoroughly recommend trying out a towering bed like ours. It was the source of much mirth and merriment (you’ll never hear this in the stories, but such beds are very, VERY wobbly), even though we have all ended up black and blue with bruises all over because of that pernicious pea.

You see, (if you wish to believe it) The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen and Maja Dusikova tells the truth: You really can tell who is of royal blood, and who is not, by placing one small, green, sweet seed of Pisum sativum under a mountain of mattresses. We scientifically investigated this and Andersen has been proved correct.

Should you not be in a position to carry out rigorous research yourself, then have no fear; this version of The Princess and the Pea, published by Floris Books, has everything, absolutely everything you could wish for.

The well-known story is told eloquently and magically, with no post modern twists, just classical elegance. But it is Maja Dusikova’s illustrations which make this a book sing. Beautiful, graceful, delicate, detailed, soft and luxurious, Dusikova’s illustrations have tip-top fairy tale quality. Imagine a rainbow coloured incarnation of Hans Christian Andersen Award winning Lisbeth Zwerger and you’ll get some sense of Dusikova’s style.

An utterly delightful book, I don’t know of any more charming version of this tale, traditionally told.

Whilst playing at being a princess we listened to:

  • Tomboy in a Princess Dress by Suzi Shelton, which you can listen to for free on Zooglobble’s great site.
  • Sheet Shakin’ Bed Quakin’ Belly Achin’ Wide Awake Blues by Katherine Dines
  • Wrong Side of the Bed by Soundzania


  • Other fun activities to try alongside reading this very beautiful book include:

  • Baking a Princess and the Pea cake! (make a note of this as very soon I will be announcing something super exciting which may get you coming back to this link….)
  • Making your own toy princess and the pea, complete with mattresses. There are lots of wonderful ideas for this over at Storytelling, Crafts and Kids.
  • Embroidering this stunning Princess and the Pea image, available from Follow the White Bunny’s Etsy shop


  • So, you now have the perfect excuse to check whether you are a princess (or prince). Please do use this post as an excuse to pile up the mattresses and blankets and have a lot of fun, and then report back! I have a feeling there are lots more princes and princesses hiding out there :-)

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    Comments

    15 Responses to “When were you last a princess?”

    1. Iza Trapani
      February 6th, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

      That is a beautiful book, and I love the girls’ princess bed!

    2. se7en
      February 7th, 2012 @ 1:51 am

      Ha!!! What fun, my favorite Fairy Tale ever!!! Love your towering bed adventure!!!
      se7en recently posted..Saturday Spot: Se7en + 1′s SketchBook Project for 2012…

    3. vanessa@silly eagle books
      February 7th, 2012 @ 2:11 am

      So much fun!! I love this idea. :)
      vanessa@silly eagle books recently posted..how to keep toddlers from drawing on the wall

    4. Zoe
      February 7th, 2012 @ 7:25 am

      Vanessa, I think you and your girls would really enjoy doing it. My top tip – pile the mattresses against a wall as they really do get wobbly!

    5. Zoe
      February 7th, 2012 @ 7:26 am

      Se7en – YOU could make the most amazing towering bed…. I can just imagine it… and your kids would really really enjoy it, I just know they would. Go on, it’d be a good excuse to turn the mattresses over and give them and airing ;-)

    6. Zoe
      February 7th, 2012 @ 7:27 am

      Thanks Iza, it definitely is a beautiful book. And it was quite refreshing to read a classical version of the story rather than a fractured / postmodern one!

    7. choxbox
      February 7th, 2012 @ 7:45 am

      Nice! The bed looks very inviting, pea or not!

      And we just read a version with a rather feminist outlook – the princess is rather offended at the pea test and so the next night puts a pineapple and an avacado and pebbles and such. The prince snores through the night so she rejects him, and he is happy because he then marries his pen pal from Latvia!

    8. sandhya
      February 7th, 2012 @ 8:21 am

      OK, Choxbox, what is the title? Could you pass it on, please?

      Love the stories by Anderson, and this version sounds like a treat, Zoe!
      sandhya recently posted..It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…please sir, I want some more!

    9. choxbox
      February 7th, 2012 @ 8:38 am

      *puts the avacado etc under the prince’s bed
      (missed the crucial bit!)

      S – 6-yr old borrowed it from school library. cant remember the title – will ask her and tell you.

    10. Barbara
      February 7th, 2012 @ 9:41 am

      I bet your girls had so much fun! When our son was small, we used to visit friends with two little girls who slept in bunk beds. Our son longed for a bunk bed but being an only child it was not very practical so each time we visited he was allowed to sleep in the top bunk. In the mornings he and the two girls would turn the top bunk into a slide (by leaning the mattress against the side), and the three of them would spend the day ‘sliding’ down the mattress. I had forgotten about it but your post reminded me.
      Barbara recently posted..Anthony and Antimacassar by Rowland and Mary Emett

    11. Zoe
      February 7th, 2012 @ 10:16 am

      Hi Sandhya, Choxbox, I too would love to know the title of the book… although it was actually really lovely to read just a regular version of a fairy tale, and be reminded of its magic, without any modern, ironic twists!

      Hi Barbara, What a great memory! My girls love to line up their mattresses on our stairs to create a giant slide, so I can well picture in my mind’s eye the delight your son took in the bunkbed slide.

    12. choxbox
      February 7th, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

      Okay got it – it is called The Proper Princess Test.

    13. Maeve
      February 7th, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

      Love it! The girls will remember that story forever
      Maeve recently posted..Charles Dickens is 200 today

    14. Zoe
      February 7th, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

      Thanks Choxbox, it’s not in our library system :-( but I’ve made a note anyway.

      Thanks Maeve, I hope they do!
      Zoe recently posted..When were you last a princess?

    15. Stacey
      February 8th, 2012 @ 2:18 am

      This is further proof that I want to come back in my next life as one of your girls! What fun :) Lauren Child has a good Princess and the Pea too, if you haven’t already seen it.
      Stacey recently posted..Now or Later

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