on July 7, 1999
Melisande is a wonderful combination of traditional fairytale and mathematic logic. It is a favorite of family, both children and adults. We are all very excited that it has finally been reprinted! Children and adults alike will note the allusions to Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, and will enjoy the humorous trials the princess must go through before the spell is broken and she finally gets to marry the prince. As in all E. Nesbit's books, logic, and the unexpected things that happen when people don't think logically, play an important role in the plot.
on September 15, 1999
This is an excellent book. I have used it for medieval, folk/fairy tale, multiplication, critical thinking, and role playing studies. It is also just a wonderful story for read aloud at home or school. The illustrations are just beautiful.
on June 29, 2001
From one irritated, uninvited guest comes the gift of baldness. From one poorly worded wish comes out of control hair. Add one prince determined to find the solution. Mix in Melisande's need to rescue her island home. How does it turn out? It adds up to an enchanting tale that delights both young and old. I've used the book in elementary classes as well as college classes--both were mesmerized.
on July 12, 2004
A century-old thoughtful twist on the fairy tale genre by a classic Children's writer (would love to see reviews of some of her other works). Melisande is a princess subject to the usual misfortune: a wicked fairy not invited to the christening casts an evil spell on her--"The Princess shall be bald." Not to worry the King has a wish he was given by his fairy godmother locked in his safe, the Princess may use it however she wishes when she comes of age. At that point, the Queen says,
"Dearest, for my sake, wish what I tell you to." "Why, of course I will," said Melisande. The Queen whispered in her ear, and Melisande nodded. Then she said, "I wish I had golden hair a yard long, and that it would grow an inch every day, and grow twice as fast every time it was cut..."
"Stop!" cried the King..."You've done about enough." For he had a mathematical mind and could do the sums about the grains of wheat on the chessboard...
You can imagine what happens next. According to the formula, they promise the Princess's hand in marriage to the Prince who can solve this problem. One unfortunate attempt leaves her growing into a giant a la Alice in Wonderland. The final solution is very clever and I won't spoil it for you. There is a great deal of humor throughout and it is illustrated very well, though I'm not an uberfan of Lynch's caricatures.
on June 14, 1999
I first found this book in second grade at our school library. Now almost ten years later I still check it out from the public library at least 2-3 times a year! Melisande is amazing in the way she thought of her people first, and the Prince has brains. Her parents meant well and almost made it around that problem of forgetting to invite someone to the party. Unfotunately they end up proving that you can't make everyone happy. This book is well worth anyones time!
on June 19, 2001
...Nesbit writes beautifully and is clever and unpredictable enough that without going over the kids' heads, the reading adult can enjoy it too. The illustrations are excellent; I just wish the hardcover version was available!
on November 18, 1998
This delightful "modern" fairy tale describes the trials of a royal family beset with too many traditions from "historical" fairy tales. Combine precedents from every fairy tale you have ever read, and you have "Melisande."
Starting with her christening, Melisande is the princess child cursed by not only fairies, but the too-literal rendition of a counter-spell. Her woes go from being hair-less to having an over-abundance. Of course, the necessary princes are called in to solve the problem. Logic and love rule the day, but oh, what fun! Nesbit is always delightful, but I think this is one of her best.
I discovered this book in hard cover several years ago at an overstock outlet, and bought one copy. After reading it to family members, they started looking for their own copy; only to find the book had become a sleeper hit. Copies have been UNAVAILABLE, or high-priced for quite a while; it is delightful this publisher saw fit to print another edition, even if it is "just" paperback. Illustrations for this tale are equally well done; this is a don't miss for the fairy tale lover, children's book lover, or lover of good stories. I shall probably buy several copies myself, if only to save my hardbook copy from abuse!
on October 8, 1999
I remember this book from middle school. I told people the story, and everyone thought I made it up! I'm glad to see that it's in print, and not just a figment of my imagination. If you love fairy tales, you'll like this book. A little strange, but worth the read.
on May 15, 1997
A charming tale of kings, castles, fairies and princesses. Because of a badly-worded magic spell, the Princess Melisande finds that her hair is growing faster than she can cut it. And things go from bad to worse when her well-meaning boyfriend tries to help! (This guy has a gift for half-baked lateral thinking.) All of a sudden its no longer the princess' hair that's growing - it's the princess herself
on August 2, 2008
Melisande first appeared as a short story "Melisande Or, Long and Short Division" in her collection: Nine Unlikely Tales for Children. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1901. It is a humorous and thoughtful satirical adaptation of classic fairy tale themes.
Borrowing themes from Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver's Travels and other classic fairy tales, Nesbit's story takes a mathematical approach to one of her often-used themes of magic wishes taken literally and going tragically wrong. In Melisande's case she is cursed at birth with baldness by a wicked fairy but her real problems begin when her mother uses another fairy's powers to wish she has "hair a yard long, and that it would grow an inch everyday, and grow twice as fast every time it was cut."
This 1990 ALA Notable Book is beautifully illustrated in full color by Patrick Lynch.