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The Princess Knight Hardcover – March 1, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Hardcover, March 1, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cornelia Funke, author of the bestselling Thief Lord, tells a short, sweet story about a brave little princess with a mind of her own.

King Wilfred's three sons learn to become big, bad knights the way any boisterous boys would: "They learned riding and jousting, fighting with swords...They learned how to stride proudly and how to shout very loudly." At her father's urging, young Princess Violetta tries to keep up with the same lessons, "even though she was so small she could hardly lift a sword at all!" Despite her brothers' teasing and laughing, Violetta continues to practice--even secretly at night. Soon enough, Violetta becomes "so nimble and quick" that when practicing with her brothers, "their spears and swords just hit the empty air." But then King Wilfred does the unthinkable: For his Violetta's sixteenth birthday, he plans a jousting tournament designed to bring "the bravest knights in the land flocking to the castle" to win…her hand in marriage! Violetta is outraged: "You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit?" Fortunately, of course, the princess finds a way to come to her own rescue.

Funke does well in this picturebook format, but Kerstin Meyer's delicate and extremely cute illustrations set the quiet, measured (but still fun) tone of the Princess Knight, as she takes inspiration from a bona fide medieval piece of art--the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2--King Wilfred teaches his daughter the same knightly skills he has taught his three sons. Mocked by her brothers for being smaller and weaker, Violetta grows more determined to succeed. She creeps out at night to practice her sword fighting and horseback riding. With perseverance, the "nimble and quick" Princess becomes an expert jouster. In honor of her 16th birthday, the king announces a tournament with the victory prize being her hand in marriage. Outraged and appalled, Violetta cries: "You want meto marry some dimwit in a tin suit? Just look at your own knights! They whip their horses and they can't even write their own names!" Taking matters into her own hands, she disguises herself in armor and poses as "Sir No-Name." After defeating the other contenders, she reveals her true identity and chooses her prize--independence. Meyer's ink-and-watercolor illustrations run across the pages in panels and were inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. Children will pore over the medieval details. Pair this spirited tale with Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess (Turtleback, 1980) for a discussion of gender stereotypes.--Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Chicken House; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439536308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439536301
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You know, if American children's authors aren't careful, Cornelia Funke is going to become the number one most sought after children's author the minute J.K. Rowling finishes Harry Potter #7. She's already become the number one most sought after German children's author (a cupcake to anyone who can name me another who's as well-known in America) and she solidifies her standing every day with books like, "The Princess Knight". I admittedly was a little shocked by parents pooh-poohing the book because it begins with the death of the title character's mother. How on earth do these parents read books like, "Snow White" or "Cinderella" to their kids? Or do they just rely on Disney films instead? And what about such classic picture book titles as "Babar"? Does any and every book get thrown out if someone kicks the bucket? Whatever the case, this is a fine fine book that gives the world a strong-hearted heroine who knows what she wants and how to get it. Think of it as a kind of "Alanna" by Tamora Pierce, but for younger girls.

When King Wilfred the Worthy's three sons were born, he knew exactly how to raise them. They were taught fencing and fighting and horseplay and good manners. When his daughter Violetta was born, however, he hadn't a clue. His wife died in childbirth and rather than ask anyone else for help, Wilfred decided to raise his daughter like his sons. Of course, being a girl she was physically smaller than her brothers. Only through constant training was she able to carry her own and win their amazed respect. When her sixteenth birthday comes up, Wilfred informs his daughter that there will be a jousting tournament for her hand on that day. Apparently he hasn't completely forgotten that Vi's actually a girl. For her part, Violetta is more than a little miffed.
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Format: Hardcover
Quite a varied selection of ratings [Ramseelbird 5 stars; mom's 2.5] and you might be wondering why and how this could be. In my opinion the answer is evident: they've got the age range wrong. This book is not suitable for four year olds, nor six year olds in my opinion (and I have one of the latter). Instead I would put the age range as 9 and up.

My first reason for suggesting this book is not for young children is that the mother dies in childbirth. As multiple mom's have suggested, little children don't understand this concept and don't want to. In fact, most 4 year olds don't even know where babies come from, so how can this make sense.

My second reason for suggesting that this book is for older children is that the arguments and theme are fairly sophisticated and not in line with little kid thinking. At five, little girls don't really understand the social complexities of gender and empowerment. Thus the struggle to compete and find one's way amongst the older males is lost on them.

Now-- for older children I think it would be a good book. The story would no doubt be fresh to them (it certainly wasn't for me) and they could relate to the princesse's accomplishments, and the unfairness of the brothers in the first part of the book, and the father at the end of the story.

So in my opinion....

Three Stars. Despite some rave reviews, I thought the plot was hackneyed. Definitely been there, done that. Okay Read-aloud. Okay art. Would be a good book for the 9 and up age group, but really not all that suitable for small fry and younger children.
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By A Customer on April 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable story, especially for little girls. It crushes gender stereotypes while making you laugh. Within a funny, endearing story is the lesson that girls aren't helpless. I still like reading the traditional fairy tales (Cinderella, et al) to my daughter, but it's nice balancing them with an empowering story like this--and especially "The Paper Bag Princess" (my daughter's favorite).
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Format: Hardcover
I love reading this book to my little girl. It is one of the few books in which the characters neither act good or bad because of thier appearance. Usually the beautiful princess is either good or bad because she is beautiful rather than morality coming out of choices that human's make. This princess is defending her own honour. It has a really smart strong female lead.
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Format: Hardcover
I have bought this book for my granddaughter, who has two older brothers. She tries to keep up with them, and so I think she will enjoy this book. To address some of the concerns expressed by other reviewers: [1] Death of the Queen --skip that page. Children who can't read won't miss it. Those that can read are old enough for some beginning conversations about death. People survive adversity and are stronger for the challenges they face. [2] Details about the "year and a day" -- I would ask my grandchildren to fill in the blanks and make a story about what they think happened during that time. [3] What is wrong with the story ending when she is married? It shows that she took her time and followed her heart.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, Pixar's Brave really ought to give Cornelia Funke a writer's credit. This book, which came out nearly a decade before Brave, hews very closely to the essence of Brave -- right down to the tomboyish and fiercely independent princess who bests all of her suitors in a tournament to see whom she marries.

All in all, I recommend this book with only slight reservations. It's a wonderful message for young girls, and the artwork is a nice mix of lovely and silly. My issue is with the needless scene at the beginning in which the princess's mother dies in childbirth. The story would have worked just as well if the queen were alive.

When I read this to my four-year-old niece, who's very sensitive about death, I simply left off the 1-2 sentences where the queen dies. Problem solved.
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