A standard picture book is 32 pages, no more no less. If you branch out to a more artistic publishing company you can find them in all shapes and sizes, as they break the format. Traditionally, you have 32 pages of wonder that give you a brief peek into a fully realized world. Picture books flawlessly combine word and image. The narrative may be composed of a sentence or constructed from a paragraph, but these books are in no way restricted from invoking wisdom in a new voice. Continuing to break the mold is The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. Become a warrior in your own right as Princess Pinecone defines self-identity and experience the chance to embody and be many things.
Best known for Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton’s intelligent foresight and observation of a variety of situations, personalities, and events are once again showcased in her children’s book The Princess and The Pony. Bank on the interactions of Princess Pinecone, a warrior, and her seemingly subpar birthday present to possess heart and soul with a great sense of humor.
Princess Pinecone’s annual birthday gifts do nothing to perpetuate or train her for warrior-hood, given cozy sweaters continually seem to exasperate Pinecone as she finds them unnecessary for a warrior. Surrounded by great warriors, men and women that have accessories fit for battle, she finds the sweaters lacking. Pinecone had the forethought to ensure her parents a heads up this year on what she wanted for her birthday. Her idea would benefit her as a warrior in battle and as a champion: a horse. Her horse would be strong and fast and able to contribute to a warrior’s partnership. Pinecone’s never-ending series of cuddly sweaters are replaced by a Shetland pony whose most significant attribute to date is farting.
What undoubtedly is a tiny and adorable pony is also an excessive eater and farter that does not scream battle ready for Pinecone. Perplexed at the miscommunication, Pinecone is not discouraged as she is determined to train the pony in order to participate in the great battle. On the day of the battle Pinecone and her pony are having difficultly joining in the kerfuffle when one of the massive warriors head their way. He halts and inspects the tiny rotund pony with interest. The brute’s reaction is the most miraculous thing in Pinecone’s eyes. She finds him petting her warrior horse. He soon explains that warriors don’t often get to show their softer side. Eventually all the battling warriors take the time to express their affection for the pony. Upon reflection Pinecone has an idea that would allow the warriors to maintain their brute and cute status: cuddly sweaters for everyone!
Kate Beaton is a critical thinker. As she satirizes, her parodies come across as a love of the source material. Beaton’s insight of many forms of point of view, positions, political standing, and historical events accounts her well as they translate into a children’s book for a new age. Her illustrations capture the mannerisms and gestures of a young Pinecone and the characteristic of the people around her.
Pick up The Princess and the Pony for its fun and sensibilities to the attributes of a warrior.