Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Reblogged this on Mudpilewood, where some visitors have children and grandchildren

Chapter Book Chat

cora cover

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

By Laura Amy Schlitz, Illustrated by Brian Floca

 

Published by: Candlewick (March 28, 2017)

Available in: hardcover, audible

At the time of this review this was a standalone book.

 

Disguised.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile is a lovely chapter book that masquerades as an elegant, long picture book. Truly, it could work as either, with the end result being children who are utterly delighted.

Newberry Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz writes a contemporary tale based on historical fantasy and fairy tales. The text is deft, spare, hilarious, and told with a firmly modern sensibility that keeps it from feeling like a tired old story. To wit: “The crocodile peered out from behind his claws. ‘This is what I’m telling you,’ he said.”

Like fairy tales of old, the story powers through actions and words that are usually considered too violent or inappropriate. Which…

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Breeze and the thief.

dandelion bear

It sounded like the sky was grumbling but Hamish knew it was Breeze shouting. He decided to visit Breeze.

Hamish was huffing and puffing when he arrived at the cave to find Breeze staring at a fairy cake.

“Thank you.” Hamish said.

Breeze said, “It’s not for you. This is the last one. A thief stole the rest along with my peppermint tea.”

“Maybe they were lost or hungry,” Hamish suggested. “You know you should always give to those who have less than you do.”

“Hmm.  When they steal my stuff they have more than me. ” Breeze bent low and looked into Hamish’s eyes. “So what do I do?”

Hamish smiled. “We should ask someone smart like Elegant or Tulip. ”

“Perhaps Elegant is the one to visit first.” Breeze suggested.”Tulip usually has a Fairy Group Meeting on Wednesday afternoons. Today is Wednesday.”

They found Elegant sitting on her  front step reading a book. It was called, “How to be  the nicest witch ever.”

Breeze said, “You can’t get any nicer Elegant.”

She was delighted and said,” Thank you. Tea and cake?”

They accepted.  As he munched on caraway seed cake, Breeze asked, ” Can you make Lovisma become kind and nice?”

Elegant said, “I hope so. Why did you come to  see me?  Are you sick?”

Breeze explained his problem adding, “I think it is Dandelion Bear.”

“I don’t know this bear.” Elegant said. “She keeps to her self.”

“Ahh  a t-r-o-u-b-l-e-m-a-k-e-r  .” Breeze said.

“No, we don’t know that.” She looked at Breeze and Hamish. They looked at their feet.

Elegant was considering the problem. “Have you asked her why she is doing this?”

“I have.” Breeze said.

“And?”

“She says she didn’t do it. But Spike saw her.” The frog popped out of Breeze’s shirt pocket and said “Ribbit.”

“We need a plan.” Hamish said.

*******************

Hamish and Elegant hid in the cave as the sun peeped over the edge of the earth. Breeze was asleep.

“He sleeps too much.” Elegant muttered.

A dark shape entered the cave. Elegant flicked her wrist and a soft light came on.  It was Dandelion.  Hamish opened his mouth to shout but Elegant said “SSssshhhh.  Follow me.”

Elegant  stood before Dandelion who was choosing six cupcakes and a handful of peppermint leaves. The bear didn’t see Elegant. Dandelion walked out of the cave.  Elegant said.  “She doesn’t know she is doing it.”

Hamish said, “Rubbish I saw her. You saw her.”

“She was asleep. Dandelion bear sleepwalks.”

Hamish looked towards Breeze. “He won’t believe you.”

“Don’t worry I can make him believe.”  Elegant woke Breeze.

He looked over at his almost empty cupboard. “Did you eat them?” He asked Hamish.

“No. But I did consider it before she arrived.”

“Aha so it was Dandelion.” Breeze said.

Elegant said, “First you should watch this.”

She pointed her wand at the wall.ie“I need to show the truth to give relief,

to this ogre who is bothered by a thief.”

As Breeze and Hamish stared at the wall they saw an image of Dandelion walk into the cave. When the light dimmed. Breeze turned to them. “She was sleeping but still she has to see the crumbs and empty cases when she wakes.”

Elegant said, “Lets go and find out.”

They walked along the mountain path to Dandelions home.  They tiptoed inside.

Elegant waved her wand and said,

“Please don’t let us make a sound or she will take fright

an angry bear is not a pretty sight.”

Dandelion began to snore. Her paws were tucked under her head and a group of mice were neatly tugging the peppermint leaves out of Dandelions grasp. The mice scurried away.  Two crows swooped low to collect a cupcake before flying away into the early morning light.

The three friends walked outside.

Breeze didn’t know what to say. Elegant said. “We need to show her. ” That evening they returned to Dandelion’s cave.

Dandelion was horrified. Tears trickled down her fur. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know I am a thief.” She sobbed.

“No you are not a thief.” Elegant said. “This will help. It is a soothing potion. You will dream but you won’t sleepwalk.”

Elegant gave Breeze and Dandelion two large baskets of cakes and bakes. “These should keep you both happy for a day or two.  Dandelion if you come to my house tomorrow night I will teach you how to bake.”

Hamish looked at Breeze, “You will have a neighbour who bakes.”

Breeze said, “I must not shout at Dandelion ever again.”

 

 

Mudpile Wood: Job Swap

Breeze loves to see Izzy, a tiny smiling fairy, visit Mudpile Wood. Her visit means Winter is over because Izzy’s job is to wake up the trees.

ipp

When Breeze met her on a cold frosty morning, Izzy was not smiling. Her red curly hair was bouncing around her face. He guessed she was angry.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“I need another job. I’m tired of doing this stuff.” Izzy glared at him.

 

Breeze wondered why he was always finding fairies with problems.

He decided it was because he was clever and could help them.

 

“If you wake up the trees in Mudpile wood then I will take you to lunch at Tulips house. We will help you find a new job.” Breeze crossed his fingers because he hoped Tulip wouldn’t be mad.

Two mad fairies would be tough to deal with.

 

Izzy flew close to his face. She flew around his head and came back to stare at him. Breeze smiled. He didn’t blink, not once.

She nodded. “Okay just for you I will wake them up in a hurry.”

 

Breeze climbed high into his favourite tree and sat watching Izzy work.

“She is very good at this,” he told a passing dragon fly.

Izzy flew to each tree in turn, said her magic words, gave the tree a hug and flew on to the next one.

Today she was moving very fast. The rabbits on the ground got dizzy as they followed Izzy.

 

Breeze saw the rabbits fall over and grinned. Tulip came to join him. “What are you laughing at?”

He stopped smiling and said, “Izzy is making everyone dizzy, watch.”

Tulip did. “It is not funny. Hamish has just stepped on a hedgehog. Now Hamish has a sore foot. ”

 

When Izzy finished she came to sit with Breeze. “I’m tired and it is your fault.”

Breeze said, “Tulip says that to me, very often. It must be a fairy thing, You are weak and small, while I am strong and tall.”

 

“No it is because we work and you don’t.” Tulip told him.

Turning to Izzy she said, “Would you care for some rosehip tea and a cookie?” When Izzy agreed Tulip said, “this way.”

 

They were sitting at Tulips house minutes later sipping tea and nibbling on cookies.

Izzy explained how tired she was of her job. “I’ve been doing it forever.” She sounded sad.

 

Breeze said, “why don’t you swap with Ellen, the Tooth fairy? She is tired of her job.”

Tulip looked surprised. “That is a good idea. Let’s go visit Ellen.”

 

Breeze took the last cookie and told them he would mind the house while they went to visit Ellen.  He was feeling sleep but chuckled as he heard Izzy sing: “I’m to be a tooth fairy. When do I start, what do I do?”

3rd June – day to be remembered.

It was the 3rd day of June. Breeze remembered this the moment he woke. The reason why was simple. It was his birthday.

He fell out of his broken rickity bed, got dressed in a hurry singing happy birthday to me. He raced into his kitchen and stopped.

The kitchen table was bare. There was not one gift sitting on it. He felt sad.”No one has remembered.” He muttered as he made his breakfast of oatmeal, apples and fresh spring water.

After eating he felt a little better, perhaps they left it outside, he thought. He peeped out his cave door and saw nothing.  He checked under every bush and shrub on the steep mountain path. He got to the wood and checked the path into the wood. There was nothing. Not one thing dangling from a branch not a muffin or a cupcake. No sandwishes for me today, he thought and decided he should go for a nap.

 

On the way to the tree he met a rabbit called Bucket. “Please help me I’ve lost one of my children.”

“Which one?” Breeze asked but the rabbit was running away shouting, “I’ll check the rabbit tunnels you checkout the pathways.”

Breeze walked the whole way around the wood, he didn’t find one young rabbit. He thought it rather strange that he did not meet one of anything. “Stranger and stranger,” he muttered.

Then he spotted Bucket  running and hopping towards the mountain. He decided to follow him.

As Breeze climbed he began to suspect he was having a dream. It was the first time in his life when he had not been greeted by many animals and beings singing “Happy Birthday” when he entered the wood.

“I might as well go home and bake my own cake,” he mumbled.

At the entrance to the cave he stopped and sniffed the air. There was a strange smell of sugar and a whiff of what he suspected was sandwishes. “Wishful thinking,” he said and trudged into the kitchen.

“Happy Birthday” The roar from his friends made him jump. He banged his head off the stone ceiling. The mountain shook. Maisie who had accompanied the witches fell into the bowl of birthday orange juice and had to be fished out by Elegant using her wand.  Mrs. Groundsel who had fallen asleep on Breeze’s chair woke when the chair toppled over. Luckily she landed on Lovisma.

Breeze stood rubbing his head and smiling. He began to chuckle. “I thought you forgot.”

Tulip flew up to him, “Of course we didn’t but we needed to get your present ready. Look.”

Breeze looked. “You baked. It is the largest cake I have ever seen. Thank you everyone.”

Hamish was rubbing his back. “It is the heaviest cake I have ever carried. I’m not carrying it back. Let’s eat.”

Breeze frowned then asked. “But why did you need me out of here?”

Everyone moved aside to reveal a brand new giant bed made out of a fallen beech tree.

Breeze didn’t know what to say, luckily Lillian and Lovisma knew what to do, they both clambered onto the bed.

“It’s really bouncy.” They said and they showed how bouncy the thick layer of moss was as they did tumbles and rolls on it.

Breeze thanked everyone and said, “It’s my birthday, lets enjoy the party.” And they did.

 

How the Ogre Breeze and Mudpile were discovered.

Maria’s  side of the story:

Chance and opportunity seldom knock at my door.

However, this one arrived through WordPress and I have grasped it with both hands.

While reading a post on “The Terrain of Symmetry” site, I was mesmerized by a picture of a tree. 

today 2013

(Click on the photo to go to the post)

This was an unusual occurrence in itself because the daughter of an Irish botanist, I have stared at many trees. But this one caught my eye because the angle of a branch reminded me of the best piece of equipment in the playground, a slide. That was it, a story was born.

My imagination was off at a running pace. An Ogre was created and his best friend sort of slid into place.  When I asked permission from Doris to use the picture to illustrate the story, she went one better and sent me an illustration of the characters, Breeze and Tulip.

From that moment on we were both hooked, stories and ideas fly out of my mind some land on paper and others are merely whisked away by being too mad or crazy. The result is I am jumping in at the deep end and we will publish our result in the form of a book.

I hope everyone enjoys and takes these stories for what they are a  childish venture into a world of make believe.

If there is anything you find beyond the realms of belief please let us know.