At long last, Princess April Morning-Glory emerges as a lost treasure from the golden age of Hollywood. Written and illustrated in 1941 by Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, the seemingly traditional children’s book is transformed into a modern-day fairy tale that will captivate child and adult readers alike. Letitia was inspired to create portraiture for the characters of Princess April Morning-Glory from film stars of the day.
John Barrymore, and Letitia’s cousin Douglas Fairbanks Jr., provided glamorous inspiration through their then-current films. The Wicked King’s (Barrymore) costume was sparked by his role as Louis XV in Irving Thalberg’s 1938 Marie Antoinette, while the hairstyle resembles his eponymous role in Archie Mayo’s 1931 Svengali. Prince Chivalry was inspired by her cousin’s (Fairbanks) sword-fighting role in David O. Selznick’s 1937 The Prisoner of Zenda.
Viewed as unconventional when it first debuted – up until then, no one had thought to meld a Disney-like moral tale with a swashbuckling adventure – the story centers on the prescient acknowledgment that we create our destinies by the choices that we make. The main narrative is focused around the brave and courageous Princess April who must first transcend darkness and evil before she can realize her true potential. Intrigued by the Great World and its sense of adventure, a young Princess April decides to abandon the familiarity of her home in Fairyland and undertake a voyage into the unknown. Once outside the Enchanted Forest, she finds comfort and friendship in the company of various creatures who ensure her safe passage. But returning home proves more difficult than at first she realized. In order to go back to Fairyland, a friendly wizard informs Princess April that she must first accomplish three good deeds.
Can Princess April resist the temptation of darker forces and summon enough courage to continue doing good deeds? And if she dares to hold true to herself, will it someday lead her back home again?
I thought that this was a beautifully written children’s book. The story of Princess April Morning-Glory is one of a small fairy who leaves her kingdom without really understanding what she is doing. She becomes lost and cannot find her way back to the Fairy Kingdom. As she tries to find her way back she encounters the dangers of the forest.
She finally meets a Wizard who tells her that in order to get back she must do three good deeds. Princess April finds this an easy task and helps many people and animals around her. When it is time to find the rainbow which connects to Fairy Land she is captured by a bad fairy. Even in that situation she was brave and strong.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful. The are large, colorful, and detailed. They really brought detail to the story and I think children would love looking at them along with the story of Princess April Morning-Glory.
However I did find two issues with this book. The first is that it is written in a calligraphy font that is hard to read, especially if a child would be trying to read this book on his/her own. I also found the small illustrations in and behind the words to be distracting from the larger pictures that are so wonderful.
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.