I Want a Sister (Little Princess) by Tony Ross

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I Want a Sister (Little Princess) by Tony Ross

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: When Queen anounces that a baby is on the way, Little Royal Rascal is very determined to get a sister: boys are smelly and have all wrong toys. Another great picture book in the hugely popular series, it has excellent funny pictures and deals with subjects important for every toddler expecting a sibling.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007242818

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Tony Ross' Little Princess series is over 10 years old - and now has her own TV cartoon series too. HarperCollinsChildren's Books are reissuing two of the books, this one and I Want My Dummy.

To the uninitiated, the whole series features a cheeky and indeed rather troublesome little Princess and each of the books concerns one toddler's rite of passage, from getting rid of the dummy to potty training to arrival of a new baby in the family.

Tony Ross is a cartoonist and, very appropraitely for toddler books, the Princesses are very much picture books, with text limited to few lines of narration/dailogue. I always found that I had to add bits to text provided in the books, but then most parents reading to toddlers would anyway, so it's not really an issue.

The attractivness of the series lies firmly in the pictures, though: they are very much caricature-type cartoons; with a style located somewhere between vicious satire and drawings of a 4 year old, and not at all pretty. In fact, most if not all of the creatures are gloriously, triumphantly ugly. The princess (as well as the King and the Queen) wears a crown but apart from that, just a baggy white gown, while the Queen, very realistically, goes to the hospital to have a baby in a flowery maternity dress and plimsols. There is a lot of pictorial humour in the books, and a lot of it would not be accessible for an average toddler or preschooler, but will provide a welcome distraction to a parent reading them, while there is also plenty of detail that would appeal to the little 'uns. The complete lack of concessions towards prettiness is to be welcomed, especially in connection with princesses, in the sea of Watchtower-joins-Disney styled girly productions that abound.

The princess herself is a cheeky, stubborn girl determined to get her way, with a tendency to screaming tantrums and stamping her feet. She is, in other words, very reminiscent of a typical toddler and the Royal Household is nothing like a family, with parents, the Admiral and the Prime Minister (grandpa and uncle perhaps?) and so on. All the books are very aptly titled on the variation of I Want... : delaying gratification and reconciling desires with reality are, indeed, major developmental tasks that children have to accomplish from toddlerhood onwards. It takes time (some never completely manage) and a lot tantrums to grow up even a little bit: The Little Princess books accompany the children on that painful road.

In I Want A Sister, the royal family is about to grow. Little Princess is rather excited about that, but also determined that the new baby is to be - HAS to be - a girl. After all, boys smell and have all the wrong toys. If it's a brother, she'll put him in the dustbin! It's not hard to guess the outcome, and Princess' reaction is this time a big girl's one: without any attempts at dustbin-throwing, she falls for her baby brother (at least for the time being).

It's an ideal book for any small child in a family expecting a baby: it acknowledges all those very negative feelings a child might have about the new arrival, it deals with accompanying anxieties in a humorous, positive way while reinforcing the idea that any child is special and unique to the parents. I think there is a slight mismatch between the typical target age of I Want A Sister, which I see as somewhere between 2 and 3.5 and the main reason for Princess' huffing and puffing: it's bit later that the intense separation of the sexes kicks in. My 5 year old was, indeed, rather disappointed about having a baby brother (especially when she envisaged having a toddler, or a bigger-boy brother) but I don't think she would have been bothered much at 3 years old; although with the marketers reinforcing this gender split earlier and earlier (it's almost impossible to get gender neutral clothes, especially cheap ones, above the age of about 3 months) it might be moving to an earlier and earlier age.

I Want a Sister comes highly recommended, both for The Little Princess fans and for all small children whose families are expecting or just have had a baby: these should buy it. Other young readers aged 2 to about 3.5 might also enjoy it for its irrepressible good humour and a slightly anarchic spirit, although, like all books dealing with the everyday (even in a imaginative setting) it will not particularly appeal to children who prefer fantasy, magic or animal adventure stories: those would be better borrowing it.

We'd like to thank the publishers for sending both books to The Bookbag. We also have a review of I Feel Sick! (Little Princess) by Tony Ross.

I Want My Dummy is another Tony Ross book from the Little Princess series for toddlers dealing with another aspect of growing up.

That's Not Funny is a book with brilliant, modern graphic style when a truly naughty child getting his comeuppance, for ages slightly higher than the Princess series. It Was You, Blue Kangaroo! also has a lesson learned by a very determined little girl.

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Buy I Want a Sister (Little Princess) by Tony Ross at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Want a Sister (Little Princess) by Tony Ross at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy I Want a Sister (Little Princess) by Tony Ross at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Want a Sister (Little Princess) by Tony Ross at Amazon.com.

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