Author Florence Parry Heide and illustrator Lane Smith have teamed up. Legends in their own right, they have come together to create the story of Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated). With a title like that, it’s hard not to take a look, if only just to see why a princess might be floating. Especially when illustrated by a Caldecott Honor artist.
Princess Hyacinth floats, pure and simple. So what do a king and queen do when their daughter can’t keep her feet firmly on the ground? Why, adorn her with heavy things of course! They make sure to sew pebbles into her socks and make her wear a crown full of heavy jewels so that she doesn’t float away. But it’s a little tiring for her to lug that around all day. In fact, when she finds a man selling balloons, she discards her heavy items, snatches up the string of a balloon, and floats off into the sky! Except how does she get down? One boy named Boy and his trusty kite might just have a way…
Florence Parry Heide is the author of such children’s books as Treehorn, and delights in telling tales in which strange things happen—but no one knows why. However, that’s just a part of the fun. Kids don’t much care why a princess might be floating—it’s simply enough that she does. It’s amusing and whimsical, and the ways in which other children manage to solve the problems presented has a lot to enjoy. A boy named Boy? Kites? Balloons? Floating princesses? What more could any kid ask for?
The illustrations will make anyone smile, put together by Lane Smith and her wide palate of oil and watercolor paints. The facial expressions on the king and queen are giggle-worthy, as is the way Princess Hyacinth is so nonchalant about her floating condition. For children 4-8, it may very well become a favorite with those who love such fantastical tales. One can only hope that Florence Parry Heide and Lane Smith meet up again in the future to bring children even more quirky stories.