Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose


Written by Nancy Gow, Illustrated by Stephen Costanza

Sterling, 2010

There once was a princess so lovely and fair

With ruby red lips and a mane of brown hair.

Her voice was like honey, her smile soft and sweet…

But the beautiful princess had gigantic feet.

This castle contains: A princess and a prince

The princess has enormous feet and every time she meets a prince, he takes one look at her feet and heads for the door. Her mom sings her a song every night about the importance of being happy with who you are. In another kingdom, there’s a prince with a huge nose having a similar problem. Women see that nose and never take the time to find out that he’s clever and fun. His father sings him a song every night about the fact that he’s fine just the way he is. One day, while they are both skiing, the prince and princess see each other from afar and then they meet on a ski lift. He has a scarf around his face that hides his nose and he doesn’t notice her big feet, because they look like skis. After talking on the ski lift, he becomes enthralled by her smile and she is taken with his wit. At the end of the night, they know they will have to reveal their flaw and both are afraid. But, because they have gotten to know each other, neither of them mind the other’s flaw and the prince proposes.

The prince's main flaw here is choosing to wear that hat while skiing.

The prince’s main flaw here is choosing to wear that hat while skiing.

Here’s a book to fly in the face of ‘love at first sight’ stories. First-time author Nancy Gow uses rhyming couplets to tell this story of a prince and princess with very obvious physical flaws that keep others from getting to know them. I like that each of them has a parent who strives to maintain their sense of self-worth. The message, in these scenes, may be considered a little heavy-handed, but parents are so important when it comes to helping kids stay confident in a world where they can so easily knocked down. So I don’t mind the overstating of the self-acceptance message here.

Stephen Costanza uses pastel on masonite board to set the tone with full page illustrations in gorgeous colors. Mr. Costanza manages to make the princess’s feet and the prince’s nose prominent enough to be noticeable as an issue but not over-exaggerated enough to make the reader uncomfortable. He also shows a lot of kindness and happiness in their faces, particularly around the eyes, which makes us root for these characters early on. Yes, they do wind up doing the traditional ‘falling in love and getting engaged on the first date’ thing, but they get a little bit of a pass since their attraction started as an emotional one rather than a physical one.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that once you get to know a person for who they are on the inside, the outside (and whatever may seem wrong with it) just doesn’t matter that much anymore.


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