So when do you think this royal baby is going to arrive? Somewhere in the world, right now, as I type, there is someone actually putting money on his or her likely gender; while elsewhere keen monarchists are planning the menu for the party they’ll throw when the future heir to the British throne finally shows up. There are plenty of others muttering under their breath about the royal family being an anachronistic waste of money! But whatever your opinion, it’s impossible to ignore the constant media interest in William, Catherine and the bump-in-waiting. A Royal Fairytale optimistically anticipates the arrival of a bundle of joy in the royal household in a traditional ‘happily ever after’ narrative that serves as a fun picture book and a royal souvenir.
This book was originally published as an e-book, designed for interactive reading via a children’s app. It’s written by the collective, anonymous voices of the Ink Robin publishing team, and illustrated by Adam Larkum. In its print version, the story is a very straightforward, linear, child-friendly rendition of the real royal love story. It may be a handy way to explain to young children just who this very newsworthy couple actually is, but it probably won’t excite young readers whose interests have not already been piqued. Little girls love a good princess story, but modern fairytales tend to lack any actual fairies, so children may be disappointed in this story, depending how deeply mired in the Disneyfication of the princess genre they are. Of course, if you would prefer your little girl to aspire to a fashionable, jet-setting sort of modern princess lifestyle (if indeed, she must aspire to being a princess at all) then Princess Catherine is as good a role model as any.
The woman formerly known as Kate chose the most advantageous uni degree of all time, leading to meeting the man of her dreams on campus – and, ironically, meaning she’ll never need to use that degree for employment purposes. Ever. While most of us had uni romances that lead to heartbreak and regret, Kate’s landed her the lead role in a princess fantasy. She has gone on to be that most desired of contemporary role models – a ‘fashion icon’ – and seems to have taken on the heavy burden of royal duties with aplomb. The book introduces us to a posh little prince and a simple country girl growing up in different parts of England. We travel with them to university in Scotland, where they become the ‘very best of friends’, and then witness the fireworks over London as the ‘whole country’ celebrates their union. Clearly the interactive version of this story would allow considerable extension of aspects like cheering crowds, wedding festivities and the world travels the couple enjoys before their baby arrives. On the page, it is really just a very simple and traditional boy-meets-girl story, albeit one involving an enormous engagement ring and regular trips to the Seychelles.
My children were keen to read this book because they are aware of the royal family from the nightly news, but the book characters, in isolation, are not interesting enough to become firm favourites. It was useful in opening up a dialogue about the role of contemporary princesses – who do not spend all day, every day, in ball gowns and do not have fairy godmothers. To that end, it may have been nice to include a bit about the ‘work’ done by today’s royals – like charity activities. I’ll be hang onto this book though as a cute souvenir from the year the real royal pipsqueak was born.
A Royal Fairytale is released in Australia by Hardie Grant Egmont and I thank them kindly for my review copy.