Rachel Isadora

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

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Whilst trying to make space for some new books last night, I did my usual trick of achieving nothing as I rediscovered favourite after favourite and just had to sit and re-read them all! And so, inspired by the pleasure this gave me, I have decided to write about a few of them.

I love fairy tales, traditional tales and folk tales from different cultures. In this book, Rachel Isadora has based her re-telling on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes’ which is also known as ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses.’

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The text is a simplified version of the original, faithful in most details, but given an African setting. The illustrations are just wonderful. Bursting with colour and life, the collages are reminiscent of the patterns and textures of Africa. The princesses - each so different- are full of energy and life, radiant in their enjoyment of their secret pleasure of dancing under the ‘twinkling stars’.

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This style of illustration lends itself to encouraging children to experimenting with similar techniques and could lead to some stunning artwork. As the story itself is a fairly basic one, it is a great starting point for re-telling from different viewpoints and developing each character. Jessie Burton’s ‘The Restless Girls’ is a great example of this. You can read our review of that here.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Puffin ISBN: 978-0142414507