Thursday, August 05, 2010

Princess Pigtoria and the Pea By Pamela Duncan Edwards, Illustrated by Henry Cole


Little ones will love this little tale of a lady pig named Pigtoria and a lot of letter P’s. Alliteration is often fun and can make a story funny, but sPitting out P’s all the way through the preposterous fairy tale Princess Pigtoria and the Pea makes it pretty perfect.
Princess Pigtoria is poor, so she presents herself at the palace in response to Prince Proudfoot’s personal ad. Precipitously, however, she finds him too finicky for her. She prefers not to put up with him, but proceeds to party with the parlor maid, porter, pastry cook, and others responsible for the palace. When Pigtoria prepares to sleep, she is unaware of the underhanded prank with a pea that the prince planned. Apprised of the pea under the pillows upon piling out of bed, Pigtoria is provoked into putting the unpleasant Prince Proudfoot in his place. I won’t provide a complete play-by-play, but little people will appreciate the payoff. (Will it spoil it if I tell you it involves Percy-the-Pizza-Pig?)
Whew! I know now that Pamela Duncan Edwards can’t have had an easy time producing all those P words, but she persevered and created a fun narrative with a point. (Please, stop with the P’s!) The pictures by Henry Cole complement it perfectly and provide plenty of opportunity for little people to practice their powers of observation. For example, the text doesn’t even tell us that the palace staff includes a platypus, a poodle, a parrot, and other animal friends with P names. Once children start looking for the other P items, it will be hard to stop, even around the house. In the process, letter knowledge will grow; you could also look for L words or T words--and spend a day on the initial letter of your child’s name. Other early literacy skills especially promoted by Princess Pigtoria and the Pea are phonological awareness (the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words) and vocabulary, since you may need to explain that a portal is an entryway and that punctuality is important.
For another gentle parody of fairy tales, John Prater’s Once Upon a Time promotes narrative skills as you find elements of familiar stories and review them. Older elementary readers who find fractured fairy tales funny can try Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.

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