Princess Swashbuckle by Hollie Hughes
Ill. by Deborah Allwright. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408862803
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Princesses, Stereotypes, Adventure, Frogs, Family, Verse, Humour. All Princess Swashbuckle wants to do is be a pirate queen, to sail away on a pirate ship and be the ruler of the waves. But her parents want her to marry a frog and settle down. How can she marry Hubert who lives in a bog or Gerald who lives beneath a log? She packs her bag and steals away one night, boarding the Stinky Fish. Finding its crew is upset at seeing their captain swim for shore, she is the perfect replacement.
Together the princess and the crew have incredible adventures, sailing the seven seas, meeting a range of other people, helping out where they can. They teach a mouse to be brave, and show a snake how to make a cake, but once all their adventures are done, Princess Swashbuckle feels a little out of sorts. She writes to her parents and receives a reply which apologises for their insistence that she marry, and invite her back to Frogland. Without hesitation she makes her way back home, allowing her parents to retire while she takes over ruling the kingdom, albeit with a pirate flavour.
This charming story full of whimsy and humour, will appeal to younger readers, lapping up the allusions to fairy stories with a reversal of the usual roles, and parallels to frogs which they will perfectly understand.
The detailed illustrations attract the eyes drawing them into perusing the things in the background, referencing things that pirates do and adventures associated with this group of people. Readers will thrill at the kingdom's seawall, shaped like a dragon's body, or the watchful eye of the ship, or the pirate's flag. All good fun.