The Princess and the Pirate by Charlotte Holt
Princess Primrose is a perfect little lady and a dutiful daughter by day...but at night she and her trusty steed fight crime, and quite successfully too. One day a pirate, One-Eyed Pete, comes to steal the crown jewels.
Author Charlie Holt (aka Lottie Holt) came to publisher OneTree House’s attention when she made the shortlist of the Joy Cowley Award in 2017. The Princess and the Pirate is her first book, and she uses rhyme and rhythm to great effect. Holt is clearly passionate about her writing, with the rhyme and rhythm making it a fun and easy book to read aloud.
To often books that rhyme can feel forced and unnatural. Not The Princess and the Pirate though. There are no clunky sentences here, nor any fumbling of words to fit the rhyme. Holt also utilises a great range of literary concepts within the book, introducing younger readers to onomatopoeia, simile and metaphor.
Holt has created a courageous and cheeky female lead, with a trusty steed that also has its flaws. Jim the pony is a character in his own right, full of vim and vigour and not afraid to embrace his uniqueness. She has already indicated her desire to create another Princess Primrose story. It is easy to imagine an entire series following the feisty princess and her escapades.
Illustrator Jane Smith, a graphic designer based in Nelson, has crafted beautiful pictures, rich in detail and colour. The digital paintings perfectly capture the effects of water colour paints, and the texture on each page is incredible. It is hard to believe that the pages are computer-generated. Smith’s paintings are full of humour and fun, with the end pages are a particular delight. Princess Primrose’s cheeky nature is a wonderful contrast to the prim and proper portraits of her ancestors.
Overall, this is a great debut by an author we should be keeping an eye on. Nailing rhyme and rhythm in the way Holt has done is not an easy feat.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
OneTree House, RRP $30