Princess and the Peas by Rachel Himes

Princess and the Peas by Rachel Himes
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The Princess and the Pea gets a tasty twist in this fresh retelling of the beloved classic fairy tale.

Ma Sally cooks the best black-eyed peas in Charleston County, South Carolina. Her son, John, is a highly eligible bachelor, and three local women vie for his hand in marriage by attempting to cook as well as Ma. At the last minute, a surprise contestant named Princess arrives at the door. Princess and John are well-matched, but Princess has her own ideas. When told she has won John’s hand, she asks him to scrub the pots and pans before she’ll give him an answer. Her answer, it turns out, is that she wants to spend some time getting to know John first.

Complete with Princess’s recipe for Black-eyed Peas, Princess and the Peas is a charming, food-filled read aloud perfect for the whole family.

Before anyone lives happily ever after, they’ll need to make some smart decisions first.

One of the best things about this retelling was how well it worked both for readers who are already familiar with the original fairy tale as well as those who haven’t heard it yet. This story was different from its source material in so many important ways that it could be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages and perspectives. That isn’t something I see very often in this sub genre, and it was as delightful as it was thought provoking.

It would have been nice to have a better explanation for why Ma Sally decided to interfere with her son John’s attempt to find a wife. While her intentions seemed to be honorable, she also came across as a little overbearing to me at times because of how much influence she wanted over this decision. That was one part of the plot I’d feel the need to explain to the little ones in my life, and I’m saying this as someone who really enjoyed the storyline in general.

I adored the messages about what really makes someone a good person. The author took such a practical and wholesome approach to the question that I kept nodding vigorously as I read more scenes. They knew exactly how to dig deeply into their character’s personalities to find the most important traits for anyone to look for if they want a spouse or even a new friend!

Princess and the Peas made me smile. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes realistic retellings of classic fairy tales.

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