Princess Betony looked nervously behind her. She wished Lady Pineal would stop hovering so close.
‘Now, Your Highness,’ Lady Pineal said, in that tone of voice which meant she didn’t believe Betony could do anything right. ‘If you please: toe pointed …’
Betony pointed her right toe. Then she swept her foot around behind her, as far as she could –
‘Ow!’ Lady Pineal said, and started hopping on one foot, rubbing the leg that Betony had accidentally kicked.
Princess Betony is back in a second fantastical adventure in Floramonde. This time she is to collect the thunder egg, a gift from the Wild Magic. She is apprehensive, but it will mean a break from the tedious curtsey practice with the relentless Lady Pineal. And it seems that it is a task that only she can fulfil and she must do it alone. Opinions are varied: ‘too dangerous’; ‘impossible’; ‘too tricky’. Only her mother, Queen Salixia understands what an honour it is that Betony has been asked, and only Salixia realises the consequences if Betony doesn’t go. Betony makes her own decision to go, excited and apprehensive in equal measures. What follows is a magical adventure through the Dark Forest and into Teapot Mountain. Black and white illustrations appear on each opening.
Princess Betony and the Thunder Egg is a beautiful almost pocket-sized hardback book, complete with dust jacket and place-marker ribbon. The cover and endpapers are covered in snowflake or ice crystal shapes. Betony is more comfortable making decisions outside in the ‘real’ world than she seems to be with the formalities required of a princess in a palace. Her clumsiness vanishes as she sets out on her quest to bring home the thunder egg. Her parents support her quest, her mother with less anxiety than her father – perhaps trusting her to be open to the world around her and therefore in less danger. Wrapped in this fairy tale are many reassuring messages about becoming independent even when it might be a bit scary. It also recognises that success and bravery are more likely when others believe in you. But mostly, this is a lovely and thoughtful adventure for quiet and resourceful princesses who don’t mind getting their frocks dirty. Recommended for early primary and younger children as a read-to.
Princess Betony and the Thunder Egg, Pamela Freeman ill Tamsin Ainslie
2013 Walker Books
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.