The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton and Angela Barrett

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Angela Barrett has previously illustrated several fairy tale picture books in an ethereal and exquisitely detailed manner, including ‘Snow White’, ‘Beauty & the Beast’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Here she teams up with novelist Jessie Burton in her first chapter book for children, a beautifully produced reimagining of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ with a feminist twist.

In this version, the twelve princesses have an individuality not usually present in versions of this story. (For variants of this fairy tale, historical, modern and cross-cultural see the surlalune website) All twelve are named and their talents and interests described, some of them playing a significant role in the story, such as Chessa’s singing voice, Emelia’s skill at caring for animals and Delilah’s knowledge of plants. How they find their way to the place where they dance their shoes to shreds is described in detail. It is the eldest princess, Frida (who in many versions weds the man who discovers their secret) who resolves the issues behind their plight after their over protective father imprisons them following the death of their mother, but all twelve have a role to play in the present and future.

Bloomsbury 9781408886915