Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie

If you are like me, you may have overlooked George MacDonald's classics, The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie. These classic fairy tales have an enduring appeal, a Christian worldview and a timeless message.  

We begin the story with Princess Irene as a little girl, living with her king-papa, in a gorgeous castle.  She is a typical princess--sweet, kind, caring and content. She loves the flowers, birds, servants and especially her nurse, Lootie.

One day, Princess Irene is exploring the castle and ends up following a mysterious set of stairs to the rooftop, where she meets her beautiful great great grandma. Her great great grandmama is mysterious as well, and appears at various times as an old woman at a spinning wheel, or as a younger maiden.  Grandma Irene dotes on the little princess, and gives her a magic ring which will lead her by a thread if she is ever in trouble. The little princess is enthralled, but very disappointed when she returns home and Lootie doesn't believe her adventure. Instead, Lootie scolds Princess Irene for hiding and making up stories.

One night the princess becomes frightened, and her ring leads her to Curdie, a brave miner boy who has been spying on the goblins in the mountain, hoping to prevent their evil schemes. PLOT SPOILER AHEAD:  The princess and Curdie have many adventures, and ultimately thwart the goblin's despicable plans. Through it all, Princess Irene must keep her faith in her great great grandmama, even when others doubt her very existence.

In The Princess and CurdiePrincess Irene has grown into a young lady, and Curdie is called on by the queen (Grandma Irene) to assist the princess and her ailing king-papa. Curdie wisely uses the gifts he is given by the queen, and proves his faithfulness and bravery with the help of an assortment of unexpected creatures.

What I Like:  MacDonald writes fascinating fairy tale adventures, sure to appeal to boys and girls alike. While girls will be taken with the little princess, boys will enjoy watching Curdie defeat the goblins with bravery and a sense of humor. There is enough action to keep readers turning pages long after bedtime.

I also like the numerous allegorical parallels in the books. Princess Irene's faith in her great great grandma, despite others skepticism, can help us talk about what it means to believe in Jesus, even when others doubt his existence. Also, the great great grandma appears in many forms, including a Queen, an old lady, a servant, and the Lady of the Silver Moon. These various aspects of the great great grandma mirror different aspects of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There are many more parallels to be found, if readers look for them.  

I enjoyed reading the books because George MacDonald was one of C. S. Lewis' primary influences.  Lovers of Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia will quickly recognize the writing style and themes present in MacDonald's books.

What I Dislike:  Very little, but I should mention some of the scenes and creatures are a bit scary for younger readers late at night. PLOT SPOILER AHEAD: Readers may be disappointed that the last couple paragraphs in The Princess and Curdie take us from a happy ending to a sad ending again.

 Overall Rating:  Excellent

Age Appeal:  8 and up, though younger readers may enjoy the books as read-alouds.

Publisher Info: Puffin Classics, 2011; ISBN:97801413332482; Paperback, 272 pages, $4.99

Buy The Princess and the Goblin Now at for $4.49

Buy The Princess and Curdie Now at for $5.99

OR Buy The Princess and the Goblin at Amazon for $9.99
OR Buy The Princess and Curdie at for $10.95.

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Becky said...

I read Princess and the Goblin for the first time last week and I'm currently reading The Princess and Curdie. I wish I had known about George MacDonald sooner!

Erin said...

Me too! I hope more readers will enjoy his works. Thanks for reading CCBR! Erin