The princess in this book is not unlike princesses found in traditional fairy tales. She's the fairest maiden in the land, and every man would love to marry her. But her father, the King, wants to make sure her husband is worthy - that he recognizes and cherishes the beauty within his daughter's heart. So the King stages a competition "to determine which knights possessed great courage and strength, deep loyalty and kindness, and most of all a deep faith in God."
Three knights make it through this tournament to the final, most important test. The King asks them to pretend the princess is riding with them on their horse. They are to then ride as fast and hard as they can toward a cliff. "We will see which of you can take the princess closest to the cliff without going over the edge," the King says.
The first two knights push away their fear and come shockingly close to the edge of the cliff. The third knight remains calm and whispers "I can do everything through God who gives me strength." But when the King asks him to perform the test, he says "Your majesty, I love the princess. She is more precious to me than anything in the kingdom...I wouldn't take her anywhere near that cliff."
"'That,' the king shouted, 'is the right answer!'"
"For the knight was brave and strong, loyal and kind. But most of all, his faith in God had taught him that true love always protects..."Which ties in perfectly with the Bible verse quoted at the beginning of the book: "Love is patient, love is kind..." (1 Cor. 13:4, 7)
What I Like: Readable and offering a pointed message to young girls about what they should expect of their suitors, there's nothing to dislike in Kingsbury's text, and the illustrations by Gabrielle Grimard are gorgeous. Appropriately fairy tale like and romantic, they are also rich and vivid.
What I Dislike: My only complaint is that Grimard depicts the two knights who don't win the princess's hand as obvious villains. I'd rather see them at least as handsome as the knight who marries the King's daughter, since looks usually don't expose the beauty or ugliness of a person's heart.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: 4 - 8.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 978-0310716419; hardback, $16.99.
Special Info: See the author read this book (and show the illustrations).