Author: Steve Metzger
Illustrator: Amanda Haley
Publishing Information: Holiday House, 2012
Number of Pages: 30
Isabel is a beautiful princess who is seemingly perfect, except for her bad manners and refusal to ever say “please.” Although she has many suitors that initially wish to marry her, each one changes his mind as soon as he realizes how rude she is and marries a kinder princess. It is not until the end of the story that she learns the importance of saying “please” and having good manners, which helps her find a prince who will love her. I think this story sends a good message to children that contrasts the typical theme of princess stories. In most stories of a princess, she is praised for her beauty and marries a prince because she is a beautiful princess. However, in the case of Princess Isabel, her beauty is not enough for the princes to marry her, as they are turned off by her rudeness. It is not until the very end of the story, when Isabel finally says “please” that she is able to woo one of the princes. The author notes, “When the prince heard Isabel say ‘please,’ he was so impressed by her humility and fine manners that he fell in love with her on the spot” (pg. 28). Although the “love at first sight” critique is apparent, this sends a much better message to children as it explicitly states that it was the humility and fine manners that led the prince to fall in love with Princess Isabel. As a result, children are able to see that inner beauty and being a good person is more important than outer beauty. Furthermore, it teaches them the value of manners, and that a lack of manners will yield consequences even for a beautiful princess who seems to have it all.
The illustrations are done in bright watercolors, and remain unframed to allow readers to really experience this story from within. However, more detail and brighter colors are given to the illustrations of Isabel, symbolizing her central importance to the story. Despite the nicely done illustrations, the text could exist alone and still convey all of the messages to readers that it is intended to.
As a whole, I believe the ideologies of manners and the importance of inner beauty make this a refreshing change of pace from the typical princess fairytales children see more often.