Princess Chamomile isn't allowed to do anything. She can't wear T-shirts or shorts, or ride her bike beyond the castle walls, or even eat sweets at her own birthday party. One morning, she decides enough is enough. She sneaks out of the castle, grabs her bike, and, with nothing but candy on her mind, heads straight for Bags-Eye the Bad Cat's Candy Store. The store owner is, as it turns out, a rather bad cat. The second he finds out Chamomile is a princess, he decides to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. Fortunately, he can't write, and Chamomile is clever enough to concoct her own ransom note to her parents, pretending to transcribe the cat's malevolent plot word for word. She is, of course, rescued--escaping all plights but an upset, candy-stuffed stomach. As Chamomile is trundled safely to bed, she tells her parents and nanny that it was their overbearing rules that forced her to escape in search of the forbidden candy. Yes, the moral of this cautionary tale is for parents rather than children.
"I know," said the king. "We're going to give her a little of what she's not allowed!"
"Just a little," said the queen, "so she doesn't want anything so much that it gets her into trouble."
While this parenting lesson may be lost on children, they'll certainly be drawn in by Chamomile's take-charge attitude, her brush with danger, and her encounter with all the candy she can eat. Parents and children alike will be charmed by Susan Varley's delicate watercolors, reminiscent of her work in Badger's Bad Mood
and The Monster Bed
. (Ages 4 to 7)
From Publishers Weekly
Being a princess is no fairy tale for young mouse Chamomile, heroine of this sprightly offering from the author and illustrator of Badger's Bad Mood. Princess Chamomile's strict nanny rules in extremes, forbidding sweets ("even at [Chamomile's] own birthday parties!"), bicycling beyond the castle walls, etc. One morning, tired of being a "Not-Allowed," Chamomile escapes on her bicycle, making a beeline for the most forbidden place of all-the candy store. The candy store owner, a cat who spends much of his time wondering "how bad a bad cat could be," sees the tiara-wearing mouse as a ticket to ransomed riches. Chamomile's clever thinking thwarts the would-be kidnapper and also wins her a mountain of sweets. The sugary spoils give her a royal stomachache but inspire a reevaluation of Nanny Nettle's draconian policies. This crisply paced adventure once again showcases Oram's on-the-mark understanding of childhood emotions and frustrations. Varley's airy, humorous watercolors (the mouse-head topiaries are hilarious) are most engaging when depicting the royal household in an uproar. Her cat kidnapper is appropriately scraggly and beady-eyed, but not too sinister, and a view of a gleeful Chamomile licking her lips in front of a candy display is not to be missed. Ages 3-9. (May)
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