The only thing disappointing about this book is that I didn’t discover it while my kids were younger! We loved Tedd Arnold’s Fly Guy and Parts series and they remain on my bookshelves today. I happened to see this in the library picture books as I was looking for another title and snatched it up excitedly.
The Twin Princes is an original fairytale that still employs the basic fairytale theme: good versus evil, evil seems to be winning, goodness and kindness triumph.
The structure is that of a story-within-a-story. An old nursemaid tells her two young charges the story of two brothers–twin princes. Because the boys are twins, the King doesn’t know which of them should inherit the throne: Henry or Fowler. The King decides to hold a hunt and see if one boy distinguishes himself above the other and then he’ll be able to make a decision. Fowler cheats and we find out this is not uncommon for him.
The King falls gravely ill before the end of the Hunt and decides a final race will determine who will ascend the throne. He stipulates that whichever son’s horse crosses the finish line last will win. Henry and Fowler are confused. The author encourages the reader to try and solve the riddle of the race before he reveals the solution, directing you to clues within the text. In the end, good wins out and the children realize their nanny is the old nursemaid from the beginning of the story who wasn’t paying attention to which prince was born first.
The Twin Princes will probably work best as a read-aloud as there is a fair amount of text on each page, so it won’t work as an independent choice for early readers. This story is comparable in reading level to Grimm’s fairytales–the originals, not versions adapted for young readers. I found it delightful. The Twin Princes is a definite add-on to my fairytale and gift-giving lists for young readers! I love the old-school fairytale vibe and Arnold’s characteristically, large-eyed, humorous illustrations.