• Picturebook Snob

A delicious adventure in outer space

You Can't Eat a Princess by Gillian Rogerson and Sarah McIntyre, Scholastic

What's it about?

It's Princess Spaghetti's birthday and an elaborate chocolate-heavy feast has been prepared. Just as the guests are about to arrive, the princess discovers her father, King Cupcake, has been kidnapped by aliens! She summons her cowardly knights, who make feeble excuses and refuse to help. The daring and determined princess zooms off into space in the royal rocket and goes to the rescue herself.

What can we learn?

Everyone loves chocolate and aliens will eat almost anything, but they don't like it when their dinner shouts at them.

What makes this stand out? It's such a funny and original story. Princess Spaghetti is a wonderful character - bossy, brave and a talented roller skater too. She's kind and generous, far tougher than her petticoats and ringlets might suggest, and even forgives the rogue aliens. The illustrations are fabulous; playful and colourful with lots of hilarious and quirky details.

About those illustrations...

They are a cheerful explosion of colour. I love the space scene with planets resembling popular sweets. Princess Spaghetti's own planet is amazing - the ocean looks like icing and the land masses appear to be intricately decorated edible delicacies. I love all the outfits and the treats at the party, the cat that follows Princess Spaghetti around and the ridiculously cute and peculiar-looking aliens.

Why we love it...

This takes lots of unexpected turns and is full of fantastic comic touches. I love when Princess Spaghetti presses all the spaceship's buttons at the same time and automatically curtseys to the aliens. The clueless king and the witty asides of all the UFOs are brilliant. The ransom note, complete with a diagram of a raspberry-blowing alien, is priceless.

It's a great book to read aloud, with lots of pantomime-like features. My youngest child loves this so much that she can recite parts of it. When we read You Can't Eat a Princess, she loves to shout along with Princess Spaghetti as she bellows orders at the aliens.

Why you need it...

Who doesn't need a stereotype-squashing riotous romp through outer space with joyful illustrations? If you've ever wondered what might happen when priviledged high society and chocolate-deprived alien culture collide - this is the book for you. If you haven't, it's still perfect for you.

About the author:

Gillian Rogerson has published over 70 titles for children. Her picture books The Teddy Bear Scare, Happy Birthday Santa, The Smallest Hero, and You Can't Scare a Princess, the sequel to You Can't Eat a Princess.

About the illustrator:

Sarah McIntyre is an award-winning author and illustrator whose marvellous creations include Grumpycorn, which we also love (review coming soon). Enormously influential in the world of publishing, Sarah spearheaded the Pictures Mean Business campaign to address the challenges faced by children's book illustrators.

How amazing are these endpapers?

You Can't Eat a Princess was published by Scholastic in 2010 - see this book on the author's website

Download free Princess Spaghetti activities and even party invitations from Sarah McIntyre's website

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