This modern fairy tale never misses a beat
The Rapping Princess by Hannah Lee and Allen Fatimaharan, Faber
What's it about?
The Rapping Princess introduces the wonderful Shiloh who lives in an enormous palace with her six sisters and parents, the king and queen. Shiloh's home is an intriguing place where talking mirrors are not unusual and elaborate flying machines abound. Yet Shiloh is sad because all her sisters are accomplished singers, while she thinks her own voice resembles a goat. Shiloh resolves to improve her vocal skills and along the way, discovers a flair for something entirely unexpected.
What can we learn?
Everyone is talented at something and we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, try to be like them, or feel bad because we're different. It's important to embrace the things we enjoy and are good at, even if they're unconventional. Be proud of who you are and what you can do, and when you find your voice, make sure it's heard by others too.
What makes this stand out? This is a beautiful and uplifting tale with a powerful message. It's diverse and inclusive which is fantastic, especially as only 5% of children's books published in 2019 featured Black, Asian or minority ethnic main characters. The story bounces along beautifully with a lively, rhyming text and vibrant illustrations to match.
About those illustrations...
They're absolutely gorgeous - so colourful and evocative - and create a convincing and compelling fairy tale realm. We love the little details like Shiloh's curious cat, her vinyl records and gramophone, and the extravagant modes of transport which enhance the world-building. There's an attractive, eye-catching colour palette and the images have a gentle, dreamy quality.
Why we love it... This unique, energetic story encourages children to be themselves, forge their own path, hone their skills and pursue their dreams, and is accompanied by fabulous illustrations. My kids weren't familiar with rapping before reading this. After meeting Shiloh, they've become fascinated by this art form and are even making up their own rhymes.
Why you need it...
A spectacular kingdom, a hint of magic, a determined princess, masterly rapping and an empowering message - what more could you want? If you're a teacher, this is ideal for inspiring activities, starting conversations and ensuring all children see themselves reflected in the stories read in their classroom.
About the author:
Hannah Lee was born in London, where she still lives. She always loved books, but yearned to see more stories that featured children like her - so now she is writing them! My Hair, her debut picture book which was also illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan, was highly commended in the 2017 FAB Prize for writing.
About the illustrator:
Allen Fatimaharan was born in Sri Lanka but grew up in Southern India and France. Now living in the UK, he works as an illustrator and animator. In 2018 he won second place in the FAB Prize for illustration. My Hair, which was also written by Hannah Lee, is his first picture book.
A huge thank you to Faber Children's for sharing this gorgeous book with us. All opinions expressed are our won.