October 17, 2014

Princess Pistachio

by Marie-Louise Gay
Pajama Press
48 pp.
Ages 5-8
For release October, 2014

For the child who is convinced that she is adopted because she has nothing in common with her parents or family who just don't understand her, Princess Pistachio will both charm her and divert her attention from that premise promptly!

Marie-Louise Gay, creator of the ever-popular Stella and Sam series of picture books, introduces Pistachio Shoelace, an orange-haired, freckle-faced moppet, to star in a new series of early readers.  In this first book, Princess Pistachio, Pistachio receives a golden crown in the mail with a card that reads, "Happy birthday, my little princess!" (pg.7)  Believing that it is from her real parents, the king and queen of Papua, an island she'd found on her map, Pistachio is convinced that they have finally found her after she'd been abandoned by a witch at the home of her adoptive parents, Mr. and Mrs. Shoelace. Donning this crowning proof, Pistachio insists that her princess status be recognized.

Regardless of her newly-recognized regal status, Pistachio's life is still grounded in the daily grind of eating her spinach, watching her baby sister Penny and going to school.  And no one seems to pay homage to Princess Pistachio: not her parents, not her best friends, not Penny, and not even the two duelling boys who must be fencing for her honour!  Sadly, a surprising phone call and a errant little sister bring a new reality to Pistachio (even if Penny is still a pest).

Children have always been taken with Marie-Louise Gay's Stella and Sam series of books, by the wonder and wisdom of an older sister and the innocent inquiry of her little brother.  Now, these readers can enjoy Marie-Louise Gay's signature illustrations in the more challenging stories of Pistachio, the girl who is definitely more like a pixie than an angel.  She may still have Stella's dramatic flair but it's wrapped up in a scampish nature that is all Pistachio.

But, what will exalt Princess Pistachio to the upper echelons of early chapter books is the voice that Marie-Louise Gay has given the little girl and the richness of the text in general.  Delightful play with words and challenging vocabulary enriches Princess Pistachio above most early readers.
 "Princess?" Gabriel sniggers. "Even an ugly old toad would want nothing to do with you!"
"To die for a mustachioed pistachi-toad! Ugh!" Jacob cries out.
They run away laughing like monkeys.
"Brutes! Peasants!" Pistachio screams.  "I'll feed you to the lions!"
With a second book, Princess Pistachio and the Pest, already scheduled, I believe that Marie-Louise Gay and Pajama Press have just created an Anne of Green Gables for the very youngest of youngCanLit readers, and one who will poke at our hearts and funny bones alike.

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