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Petronella Hardcover – December 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Moon Mountain Publishing (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967792916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967792910
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jay Williams's Petronella, originally published in 1973 in Parents magazine, is a princess tale with a twist. Royal-born Petronella, kind, brave and resourceful, goes in search of her prince and finds an enchanter instead. Shades of Parzival and Baba Yaga lore find their way into the story (e.g., her act of kindness releases an old man from a curse; enchanted everyday objects help her make her getaway). Margaret Organ-Kean's opening portraits of the royal family and the pristine castle in which they live are standouts, but the princess herself and her suitors appear to be rather homely.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

When Jay Williams published Petronella in 1973, it was hailed (or derided) as a "feminist fairy tale." Seen against the crystalline conventions of the traditional fairy tale, with its imprisoned princess waiting passively for rescue by an active male hero, Williams' energetic, resourceful Princess Petronella, who set herself against a dangerous (male) enchanter in a battle to free a captive prince, was positively radical. The book was embraced by the women's movement and widely anthologized, and remains a sentimental favorite among may women who have left behind the radical feminism of their youths to become practicing mothers, breadwinners, and careerists.

But even while the term "feminism" has become associated with the movement's most radical factions, many of the goals of the '60s and '70s feminism have been widely accepted throughout society. Hardly anyone seriously questions the notion of equality between the sexes, although practice still falls far short of theory in many areas. Girls are widely encouraged—in school, at home, and through the mass media—to excel in sports and education, to establish fulfilling careers for themselves, and to demand equality in their relationships with men.

Petronella, A Newly Illustrated Edition, therefore breaks no new boundaries in gender relations, but is all the more relevant because of it. Where the assertive teenaged princess may once have been considered too dangerous for many young readers, she has become, with the passage of time and societal change, an appropriate mainstream role-model for girls from 8 to 12—and an enjoyable read for their young male counterparts as well.

Margaret Organ-Kean's sparkling new illustrations do much to bring Petronella up-to-date for a new generation of readers. Both Petronella and her foil, the mysterious enchanter Albion, look like they could star in the latest pop video—minus the blatant sexuality. Neither are conventionally beautiful individuals, but both are appealingly realistic and suffused with authentic personalities. And therein is another virtue of Petronella, A Newly Illustrated Edition: that romantic heroes and heroines can look at lot like the high-school seniors down the street.

Organ-Kean, who is well known in the fantasy community as an illustrator of games such as the Magic: the Gathering and Middle Earth: The Wizards series, uses a vivid, detailed style that lends considerable credibility to the story's fantastic, shape-changing enchantments—such as, when Albion turns himself into a salmon so that he can pursue Petronella across a lake that she has magically brought into being. But Organ-Kean's artistry is just as manifest in scenes where no enchantments appear. A slightly homely Petronella, eye-to-eye with an furious hawk, and singing to it to calm it down, is an extraordinary depiction of inner beauty making itself manifest. And Organ-Kean clearly enjoys painting horses. They appear on several pages, looking supremely muscular and vital.

Likewise, the story of Petronella has also lost none of its vitality in the 27 years since it was published. Its plot twists remain surprising yet believable, and its characters are still delightfully eccentric. The message may have lost its radical edge, but that is through no fault of the storyteller: indeed, it is indicative of positive societal change that the story is more broadly acceptable now than it was in 1973. And thanks to Organ-Kean's stunning new illustrations, Petronella may again become a favorite of young girls with dreams.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Great as a read-aloud or to share with the kids or grand-kids.
Jeff E. Bullard
The fantasy artist Margaret Organ-Kean has created marvelous watercolor illustrations with a modern flair certain to age well.
C. Penn
This is such a great book to model strong female characters to kids.
desert sage

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Victoria Strauss on August 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A classic fairy tale setting is turned inside out in this story of strong-willed princess Petronella, brought back into print after more than 20 years by startup children's publisher Moon Mountain Publishing.
In the kingdom of Skyclear Mountain, three princes are always born to the king and queen--until the day when the youngest prince turns out to be a girl, Petronella. When the time comes for her elder brothers to go off to seek their fortunes, everyone expects Petronella to stay home and wait for a prince to turn up and marry her. But Petronella has other plans. She sets off on her own quest, which brings her to the house of Albion, a sinister enchanter. There she finds a prince, Ferdinand of Firebright, apparently in need of rescue. Ferdinand isn't exactly what Petronella expected--in fact, he's a bit of a boob--but she sets out to save him anyway, with results that delightfully confound the reader's expectations.
Jay Williams, author of more than 80 books for children and adults, didn't set out to write a feminist fairy tale. According to his daughter, he was simply responding to a request from his children to think up a story where the princess, for once, took an active role. But Petronella, first published in 1973, came at just the right moment to be embraced by the women's movement. Its portrayal of an assertive female protagonist and reversal of gender stereotypes--relatively rare in children's fiction at the time--won it wide attention, and it was much-reviewed and extensively anthologized before falling of print (and out of fashion) in the late 1970's.
These days, strong heroines and gender reversals are commonplace, in children's fiction as elsewhere, and Williams' scenario no longer seems radical or even particularly surprising.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Allie Jones on January 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jay Williams' story is wonderful fairy tale, unforgettable, humorous, charming, and, in the original first edition, so exquisitely matched by the illustrations of the immensely talented artist Friso Henstra. The illustrations in this "new" edition are a disappointment. Friso Henstra's illustrations in the 1973 edition are alive, witty, distinctive! Nothing can match them for Petronella and anything less risks detracting from the story. It is, after all, a fairy tale, and the new illustrations just don't capture that. The new illustrations are barely a 1-star quality for a story that's 5-star all the way.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mary Homer on November 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It isn't just the gender role reversal that is appealing but that the heroine does what is in her heart and mind....a suitable message for young people...one doesn't always have to adhere to traditions and do what is expected in one's search for happiness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Lewis Read on June 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did not remember reading this book as a child, although I read every single Danny Dunn (also Jay Williams) many times, and I loved The Practical Princess. Mostly I loved Princess for the awesome illustrations of the Dragon, and when I ordered a used copy for my daughter, Henstra's illustrations did not disappoint.

I ordered this old issue of Petronella to get the Henstra illustrations. They are amazing. I am reminded of Yellow Submarine. There are many interesting things to find on each page. Better: the story is a full on fairy tale with all the correct elements, and it unfolds beautifully and magically. Also, the moral of the story on one I had not seen before in childrens books - if you are a woman looking for a man, don't settle for second rate!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Penn on February 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Jay Williams' 1973 classic Petronella has been recently released with all new illustrations by Moon Mountain Publishing. The fantasy artist Margaret Organ-Kean has created marvelous watercolor illustrations with a modern flair certain to age well.
In the kingdom of Skyclear Mountain, the king and queen always have three princes. But one year, things change. The third prince isn't a prince at all, but a princess. Named Petronella, the princess determines to go out and seek her fortune as her brothers do, rather than waiting for a prince to come to her. Petronella's inquisitive nature, bravery, and talent lead her on a fantastic adventure.
While the target audience is girls from 8 to 12, the tale is well suited for boys as well. The shapeshifting illustrations are especially wonderful, blending masculine and feminine energy for a unique balance seldom achieved in children's literature. Indeed, this wonderfully written story with its marvelous role reversals and unexpected ending is a must read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "stellane" on June 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I made the mistake of telling the story of "Petronella" to some children I babysit, and now I'm constantly hearing, "Tell us about Petronella!" It's a very cute tale of a princess who wants to keep up "family tradition" and rescue a prince. While very entertaining, the story also has lessons in kindness. I would certainly reccommend this book to anyone who likes anything out of the ordinary; however, be forewarned: if your audience consists of those of smaller dimensions, you will undoubtedly read it many times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My mother bought this book for me when I was little. It was my favorite story. Still is to this day. It's a wonderful story of kindness and strength. It shows that family traditions can be upheld by women as well as by men. I have bought a new copy for my daughter. Hopefully, she will enjoy it as well as I did.
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