Flip over the picture book Dangerously Ever After and you'll read:
Not all princesses are mad of sugar and spice -
some are made of funnier, fiercer stuff.
Written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Valeria Docampo, Dangerously Ever After tells the story of Amanita, an adventuresome princess who loves spiky, sharp, hazardous things. When a prince presents her with roses, she doesn't really like them - until she realizes that they have thorns, and then she asks for seeds so she can plant her own roses. What emerges from the ground is a new problem.
This is such an cool book: great writing, great illustrations, great message. It's not about being reckless; it's about marching to the beat of your own drummer, knowing what you like and who you are and being unashamed of it. Amanita is both sharp and sweet. Bonus points for having a Siamese cat (sadly unnamed) and matching outfits.
In addition to the simply great text, I thought the illustrations were beautiful; they made me want to go check out everything Valeria Docampo has ever drawn, ever. (And hire a costumer to make me dresses based on Valeria's designs.)
She smelled something wonderful.
It smelled like candy and lemons and cloves.
It smelled like sleeping in the sun and staying up late for a party.
It smelled like secrets and summer and beautiful dresses and the kind of folding knife that comes with scissors and a screwdriver.
Want to know what Amanita smelled? You'll have to read the book to find out.
Want to peek inside the book? Click over to Carter Higgins' review at Design of the Picture Book, where she pays attention to detail and points out many lovely aspects of the illustrations. For a behind-the-scenes look at the plotting of Amanita's outfits, check out the interview with both the illustrator and the author at fellow author/illustator Elizabeth O. Dulemba's blog.