Written by Jonathan Emmett and Illustrated by Poly Bernatene
Bloomsbury Kids, 2011
Not that long ago, in a kingdom not far from here, a farmer was traveling home from the market with a cartload of straw.
This castle contains: A king, a queen and a pig (and there’ s a princess out there somewhere)
This story is a fairy tale especially written for those who love fairy tales. Pigmella is a piglet, owned by a local farmer. Priscilla is the infant daughter of the king and queen. One day, circumstances cause the two to be switched. The farmer and his wife are overjoyed and believe it to be the work of a kind fairy. The king and queen, on the other hand, believe their daughter has been cursed by a bad fairy. So both families attempt to raise their new daughters, with mixed results. When the farmer’s wife hears about the princess who looks like a pig, she and her husband sadly bring Pigmella to the castle to reunite her with her true parents. But the king & queen refuse to believe that this lowly farmer’s daughter could be a true princess, so Pigmella and her parents return home and live happily ever after. Princess Priscilla’s story doesn’t end quite so happily.
One of the most fun aspects of this story is the fact that every time a character assumes they know what’s going on, they refer to it as ‘the sort of thing that happens all the time in books’ and hold up a book of a fairy tale that features exactly the situation they’ve described. It makes you realize how easily some of these plot devices can fit into other contexts and be used to explain away just about anything. The book touches on Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina, The Prince and the Pauper, Puss in Boots and The Frog Prince.
Author Jonathan Emmett got the idea for this book from his four year old daughter, who saw a bejeweled piggy bank and declared it a princess pig. He states, on his website, that he wanted this book to show that you don’t have to marry a prince to live happily ever after. Illustrator Poly Bernatene provides wonderful artwork, managing to show us the contrast between the grandness of the royal castle and its inhabitants and the simple but happy home of the farmer and his family.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that all the niceties in the world cannot change who you truly are.