Thursday, 2 August 2018

Picture Book of the Month - The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

An action-packed storytelling adventure that flips the traditional fairy tale on its head.
When it’s time for Jamie’s bedtime story, his dad begins to tell an age-old fairy tale about a prince in a faraway land full of dragons, wolves and princesses in distress. But inquisitive Jamie can’t help but add to his dad’s story, and the prince is soon joined by an evil-eyed witch who turns people to jelly, a broccoli-wielding ninja frog and a jewel-thief, lock picking princess. It may not be the story Dad set out to tell, but together, he and Jamie create something much more energetic and hilarious than they could have alone.

We're very excited to welcome Alastair Chisholm to talk about 
The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears 
As of this year, both of my daughters are teenagers (help!). But when they were a bit smaller, I liked to try to tell them stories.

I say 'try', partly because making up proper stories on the fly was harder than I'd realised, but mostly because trying to tell my daughters anything was (and still is) nearly impossible. Like Jamie, the central character in The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears, they had Questions and Opinions. 

"The Prince," I would begin, feeling very pleased with myself, "lived in a far-off kingdom, where he— "

"How far off?"

"…What?"


The Prince and his horse, illustrated by the fantastic Jez Tuya

How far off is the kingdom? they'd demand. How fierce are the bears? How did the horse get down the cliff? Why is it even a prince, why not a princess? Why was the witch so angry? Why is it always stone that people get turned into – why can’t it be jelly? Can't the horse help?




Things the Witch has turned into Jelly

At first, the book was just about that – all the questions and interruptions getting in the way of the story. (In fact, the original title was The Interrupted Prince, and it included a scene where they had to stop to look for Ollie the Sheep, plus a break in the middle because Jamie needed a wee). But gradually, like the Dad, I started to understand – the story was actually better when Jamie told it.

The truth is, kids understand stories better than grown-ups. Their world is made of stories, after all; it's how they start to make sense of it all. (And if you're lucky, they'll keep that spark for their whole lives).

And so … It turned out the kingdom was very far off, and that became part of the tale. And the witch actually had a pretty good reason to be angry, really. And hey, it should be the Princess who saved the day – and of course the horse could help!


The Princess takes charge

As Jamie and Dad discover, the best part of telling stories to kids is telling stories with them, and the best part of that is just listening as they tell you what the world is.

Also, the witch is a ninja and lives in a castle made of broccoli. Just saying.

Pick up a copy of The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears at your local bookshop.