Friday, January 30, 2015

Princess Sparkle-Heart gets a Makeover - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Do you ever start reading a picture book, having a pretty good idea where the story is going from the very first page but not at all sure HOW the writer is going to pull it off?
The book I selected this week is one of those books. And the writing, the illustrations, the entire package is masterfully done!
I had read one of the author's other titles, Bedtime Monsters, and liked it but it didn't take me to the computer in a 'have to recommend it moment' like this one. My library doesn't have a copy of his Geisel award winning book (gasp, I know) so I am now on the hunt for that.

TITLE: Princess Sparkle-Heart gets a Makeover
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2014
Intended Age: 4-8
Themes: This book has so many layers, it's hard to pigeonhole it.
I'm going to grit my teeth and say: Toys, Accidents, Pets

Opening lines: Amelia and Princess Sparkle-Heart were best friends.
                        GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR (more R's in the original)

Synopsis: A girl's dog is jealous of the girl's new doll.

What I like about this book: SPOILER ALERT-the beauty of this book is hard to talk about without giving away the ending. So, if you don't want to know what happens, don't read. The cover kind-of gives it away . . . .
The story begins on the title page, and continues on the dedication page before you get to the start of the text. The story might seem to begin abruptly if you don't see those illustrations. Perhaps recognizing a bit of myself, I loved the combination of the shoeless girl in overalls and the girly princess doll. (and the girl's crazy fly-away hair although mine was never red!)
The gutter isn't "scary" black in real life
Favorite toys have accidents or wear out. That's life. And the author takes an unflinching view of this event when Princess Sparkle-Heart is torn to shreds. The story is done so well with perfectly understated text, for a moment I had to pause in reading the climactic scene. The girl's mother does play a role in the "solution" but it didn't bother me. What felt genuinely touching is the girl's ultimate satisfaction in the "new" doll with a unstated nod to what makes a toy, or each of us, US. And what makes a princess, a princess. My favorite childhood toy was loved-through several times and reupholstered yet I never remember being upset by this. Just glad that Harry (I named him after the dirty dog) was still with me. And the dog in the text isn't punished for doing what came naturally.

Resources: FYI: There is an American swimmer with the same name as the author, and his information comes up first in google searches.
 Houghton Mifflin, the parent company of publisher Clarion Books, provides an activity page for making your own Princess Sparkle-Heart. I think this is a great way to preserve pieces of outgrown favorite clothing. I made a patchwork bedspread with favorite clothing scraps when I was in 8th grade, and I smile when I recognize the events it represents. Of course, I actually sewed some of my clothing (why I looked so rag-tag!) and sewed clothing for Barbie and trolls and . . .so it helps if you are a sewer to begin with.

You can see Josh thank the committee for his Geisel award in this 24 second video.

For writers/illustrators, Josh doesn't seem to have a website--too busy winning awards--but Houghton Mifflin has a nice author interview and view at his creative process here.

For kids, talk about which toys they'd invite to a tea party and why. Then have a party--YUM!
Talk about taking care of your toys. What can be fixed and what can't? Repair or donate some of the toys at home.

Read the Kirkus review here.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF 

Thanks again for stopping by!


  1. Great review. And I am so glad the dog is not punished!

    1. Agreed, Joanna! A dog's gonna do what a dog's gonna do. :)

  2. Boy do I get this one! If my dog sees a stuffed animal it it chew and destroy. Glad they find a solution for the doll and don't punish the dog.

    1. The chew toys on the market today look just like kids' toys. If I can't tell the difference, can't expect a dog to. Especially a jealous one.

  3. I'll bet toy shredding happens way more often than I hear about, so this is a great book for many households. And, like you said, I like that they don't punish the pooch for doing what comes naturally. :)

    1. It's a good book for any disappointment. Kids have to face them, and it's good to have models for coping with it.

  4. Oh, Boy! Do I know about favorite toys that get kind of messed up! I've had it from both sides. My Mom Person has become a really fine doctor! i like your ideas to go along with this story. Excellent all around! Thanks for sharing this one!

    1. Every dog has its day, lol. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Looks creative and WONDERFUL. Thanks!

    1. I don't usually LOVE girly books and was prepared to not like this based on the title. Surprise!! Not girly. Just superb. Thanks for the comment, Joanne. :)

  6. Dogs will be dogs and so glad she still had her doll - or did she ;)