The Rose and the Lily

written by Susan Ross
illustrated by Megan Stiver

A prince and princess story with a difference

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

Author Susan Ross uses a finely honed sense of the absurd to craft a prince and princess story with values that won't leave you gagging!

I'm sorry, but I really can't think of another way to put it. Just when I want to put a pox on princesses and all their toxic messages, like...

  • Age 4 is not too early to be thinking about landing a husband, and
  • Every girl is a princess who deserves to be treated like one, even though
  • Nothing is expected of her in return...

...along comes Princess Rose, a spoiled piece of work whose comeuppance results in a message parents can endorse. And to top it off...

The story's actual protagonist is a prince, who just happens to learn that beauty is more than skin deep.

The Rose and the Lily

King William is terrified of his monstrous (but gorgeous) daughter. Nothing satisfies her. When she hears another princess has glass slippers, Princess Rose wants stained glass slippers. (And, if you pay close attention to the illustrations, she getsthem.)

Naturally, the king is desperate to marry her off and get her out of the castle. He dashes off a pronouncement to the nation's noblemen:

My daughter, Rose, is ready to wed.
She's beautiful from her toes to her head.
The princess must find you handsome and fine.
If you get married, she's no longer mine.

--Please hurry

Well, you know the allure of princesses. Suitors come from across the land, but Rose finds them all wanting. But then, along comes Prince Sterling. The problem with him? He's too good-looking. Rose worries that he'll get all the admiring glances she so richly deserves. Still...

She needs a hairpin. If Sterling can find one that befits her beauty and her station, well, she'll deign to marry him. And Lord knows, he wants to marry her. She's a babe!

So Prince Sterling sets off on his quest, along with his trusty white horse, Lightning. And a pattern begins to emerge.

  • Sterling manages to secure a great-looking hairpin
  • On the way back to the princess, Lily - a homely young woman in a modest cottage - feeds Sterling and waters Lightning
  • The haughty princess rejects the hairpin

But here's the thing...

With each repetition, the homely (but eligible) Lily grows more attractive in Sterling's eyes, while Princess Rose grows a little more homely.

Just as it should be. Just - in fact - as so happens in real life. So guess who sterling Prince Sterling ends up marrying?...

Lily. Though if any author were capable of giving us a princess story ending (deservedly) in divorce, it would be Susan Ross.

The Princess and the Rose

Megan Stiver's computer-enhanced watercolors capture Princess Rose's Dorian Gray-like deterioration, as well as Lily's growing appeal in Sterling's eyes, thus proving beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The result is a prince and princess story with a wholesome message for girls and boys.

Boys: look deeper.
Girls: be deeper.

The Rose and the Lily on Amazon.

Disclaimer: The reviewer provided professional feedback to the author on an earlier draft of the story.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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