Reviews for Twelve Dancing Princesses

Booklist Reviews 2007 December #2
*Starred Review* In 1996 Jane Ray created a lovely, luxe version of this popular Grimm fairy tale about a clever soldier who discovers the nightly dancing escapades of 12 fun-loving princesses. Setting her own interpretation of the European story in Africa, as she has previously done in The Princess and the Pea (2007), Isadora offers an entirely distinct treatment that nonetheless rivals Ray's in sheer beauty. Working in collages of painted, textured paper, Isadora evokes an archetypal African kingdom through sumptuous, kente cloth textiles and Serengeti-like landscapes that pop vibrantly against primarily white backgrounds. The compositions, some of which seem influenced by the cut-paper artwork of Matisse, invite lingering examination for their impressive economy of means. In one scene, thick, parallel strips of orange against an aqua backdrop suggest a sunset's shimmer on water; elsewhere, clusters of textured shapes effectively convey silver, gold, and diamond foliage. Some readers may wish the compact, straightforward text tied in better to the setting, perhaps anchoring it to an individual country and culture. But folklore is rarely so specific, and the no-fuss approach does keep the story short for reading aloud. More significantly, perhaps, it provides an opportunity for young readers to marvel at how timeless, unembellished words can provide near-infinite space for an artist's interpretation. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #5
Isadora's ebullient collages give this minimalist, unattributed retelling a generic African tribal setting. The Grimms' familiar events are all here. Hoping to discover how the king's twelve daughters manage, nightly, to reduce their shoes to shreds and thus earn a princess to wed, a soldier happens on an old woman who gives him a cloak of invisibility. Thus equipped, he follows the princesses when they trip underground to dance with a dozen princes until their shoes are indeed "danced through." Skillfully, Isadora pieces together forms cut from printed papers, as well as paper striated with oil paint, to evoke African costumes and landscapes; ample white space adds drama and clarity. It's a good story, one that sits comfortably in this handsome new setting with its bright patterns and sun-drenched colors; and if the text is singularly unadorned, it has the virtue of accessibility for beginning readers. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 August #2
The familiar tale from the Brothers Grimm receives a bright treatment in an unspecified African setting. As she did with Yo, Jo! (April 2007) and The Princess and the Pea (June 2007), Isadora uses her new collage technique which combines Eric Carle-like painted paper and bright prints against clean white space, to tell her story. The text hews to the original, simplifying it somewhat but leaving the essential plot and structure intact, allowing the images to take center stage. The princesses are a rainbow, dark-, light- and medium-brown skins on bodies of varying shapes and heights, their dresses a riot of color. Visually gorgeous though it is, however, there is reason to be concerned with the arbitrary relocation of a German tale to Africa--an Africa, moreover, that owes more to an idealized conglomeration of vague sub-Saharan images than to any real evocation of a specific time or place. While this fairy-tale retelling avoids the grievous cultural misstep of the earlier Princess and the Pea, it still feels more self-indulgent than anything else, less a startling new interpretation than an opportunity to explore color, design and technique. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 September #1
As in Princess and the Pea (which PW called "an innovative interpretation of a timeless tale"), Rachel Isadora has adapted another classic to an African setting with striking collages in The Twelve Dancing Princesses. (Putnam, $16.99 32p ages 4-up ISBN 9780-399-24744-6; Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 December

K-Gr 3-- Isadora relocates the setting of this story to the court of an African kingdom, and the result is a delightfully original version of the traditional tale. Double-page collage illustrations, crafted using oil paints, printed paper, and palette paper, feature a variety of African art and cultural motifs. The lovely princesses, whose skin tones range from light brown to deep ebony, are arrayed in a colorful range of traditional folk costumes, jewelry, and hairstyles. Beginning with the stunning cover, featuring exuberant dancing couples and huge white letters placed against a dramatic black background, Isadora's art evokes an air of high-spirited romance. Throughout, dramatic collages move the story forward at a lively pace. The dance scenes in particular, elegantly composed and detailed, come alive with swirls of movement. With her innovative re-imagining and masterful art, Isadora has created a memorable version of this tale that complements other fine retellings, such as those by Errol Le Cain (Puffin, 1981) and Jane Ray (Dutton, 1996), and extends the appeal of this timeless tale to a new audience of readers.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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