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I found "The Monster Princess" at Goodwill this summer and liked it so much I had to write a whole column around it. It's a great book!

A couple of friends told me they liked the addition of the book covers to August's Check It Out. It did catch the eye.

D. J. MacHale's rhyming text for “The Monster Princess” entertains while imparting valuable lessons. A monster who lives underground longs to be a pretty princess wearing fancy clothes. One day Lala ventures into a castle and tries on the royal maidens’ gowns.

When the palace’s residents find her in their room, Lala confesses her dream. They make her look glamorous and take her to their ball as a trick to embarrass her in front of their guests. When everyone laughs at her, Lala flees to her subterranean home.

Later, when Lala goes to return the borrowed ballgown, she finds a wiffle threatening to eat the princesses. Despite their cruelty, Lala saves their lives by fetching the wiffle krinkle nuts to munch instead.

She realizes she is happy being herself.

Picture books about...

...UNLIKELY HEROES

In Dee Anderson’s “Beaver’s New Coat” and Johnny May’s “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” formerly scorned characters save the day.

...JUDGING BY APPEARANCES

When characters in Andrew Clements’s “Big Al,” Marcus Pfister’s “Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale,” and Sue Porter’s “Little Wolf and the Giant” get to know the scary-looking creatures they’ve feared, they discover their supposed enemies make good friends.

In Syd Lieberman’s retelling of a Jewish folk tale, “The Wise Shoemaker of Studena” humorously shows a snobbish merchant why the person inside is more important than the garments outside.

...BEING CONTENT AS ONESELF

In Rosalind Allchin’s “The Frog Princess” and Fred Gwynne’s “Pondlarker,” amphibians realize being themselves beats being royalty.

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...UNCONVENTIONAL PRINCESSES

These books chronicle the deeds of strong royal maidens who don’t wait for someone to rescue them: Martin Baynton’s “Jane and the Dragon,”

Cornelia Funke’s “The Princess Knight,” and Mary Hoffman’s “Princess Grace.”

Troll stories

A boy tricks Patricia Rae Wolff’s “The Troll-Bridge Troll” in this picture book touting the value of education. Lise Lunge-Larsen retells folk stories for all ages in “The Troll with No Heart in His Body and Other Tales of Trolls from Norway.”

Life underground

Explore what life is really like underground with Joanna Cole’s “The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth” and Tim Magner’s “Earl the Earthworm Digs for His Life.”

Enrichment activities

  • Draw dresses fit for a princess OR draw Lala and dress her in an outfit fashioned from fabric or paper scraps, sequins, etc.
  • Eat nuts.
  • Play Feed the Wiffle. Draw a wiffle’s head to fill most of an 8½ by 11 inch sheet of paper. Add eyes, nose, and a big circle for an open mouth.

Glue onto front of an empty cereal box.

Cut out mouth.

Lay box flat on the floor, face side up.

Stand a few feet away. Toss “krinkle nuts” (peanuts or bottle caps) into the open mouth.)

RESERVE THESE BOOKS at http://search.prairiecat.info. For others search “princesses juvenile fiction.”

Check It Out, covering the world of family literature and written by local librarian Dee Anderson, runs monthly.

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