The Lighthouse Princess, the 2021 Storylines Gavin Bishop Award-winning picture book, is a delightful contemporary fairytale about an independent princess, who looks after a very special lighthouse lamp, fishes off the balcony and goes swimming with seals.
The Lighthouse Princess is almost perfectly happy. She takes care of the light that keeps ships safe at sea, catches fish off the balcony, and swims with penguins and seals. But one day, a little fishing boat with green sails sets out just as a storm blows up and the lighthouse-keeper princess rescues a boy from the storm.
“Do you need rescuing from this tower?” he asked her.
“No,” she said, “I like it here.”
Katie, and her daughters Charlotte (6) and Alice (3) review this modern fairytale by poet Susan Wardell featuring magical and award-winning illustrations by Rose Northey.
A thoroughly modern princess
My daughters Charlotte (6) and Alice (3) are both princess mad. Being a family of bookworms we love finding new books to try, and nothing makes my kids’ faces light up more than seeing a new princess book in our local bookshop or library. But more often than not, the way that the princesses look and act is a little unrealistic. For this reason, we are always on the lookout for books where the princess is presented in a different way.
The Lighthouse Princess by Susan Wardell is a perfect example of this non-traditional fairytale.
This gorgeous book features a princess, a tower, and a boy on a mission to save her, but in a refreshing format to make both adults and children reimagine what it is to be a princess.
Both of my kids absolutely adored this book, asking to read it over and over again.
Being princess fans, they particularly loved the title character. She is smart, independent, creative, and practical, choosing to live the life she wants and being happy with this.
Far from needing saving, she enjoys keeping the ships safe at night, as well as swimming in rock pools, decorating the lighthouse, and fishing. Charlotte was really excited to find a princess who enjoyed doing things like her, seeing that they could be more than a beautiful dress.
We loved seeing the princess saving the boy when his boat got stuck in a storm, and the girls were amazed by her stairs and tunnels out to the lighthouse.
We also loved how the boy and the princess became great friends when they found that they had so many shared interests, both ending up with their own version of a ‘happily ever after’.
Alice said that she knew how happy having her friends around made her feel and was glad that the princess had the same.
I was excited to have finally found a book where the princess was choosing to live her life happily, the way she wanted to, without having to explain or defend herself.
The illustrations by Rose Northey work in perfect harmony with the words. My kids were so excited spotting all of the little details on each page (the chocolate fish being a particular favourite) and the colour palette is muted yet bright, capturing the feelings of hope and optimism of the story perfectly.
This is no pink and frilly princess book, and will appeal to a wide variety of readers – it certainly captured the imaginations of our whole household. Alice in particular loved the animals and was happily scanning each page, looking for the personalities of each one being brought to life.
The illustrations also enhance the non-princess-typical roles being played by the main characters. The princess is as strong and practical as the boy, and we see her fixing the boat whilst the boy sews up the sail, as well as them both swimming, fishing, and abseiling down the side of a building to decorate it.
A princess story for everyone
This is a story of friendship, of courage, of conviction, and of being the master of your own destiny. It attests to the power inside us all to live how we want to live, but also how rewarding it is when we have someone we care about, whoever that may be, standing by our side.
This is a princess story for everyone and anyone can take joy from its message. The perfect companion for snuggling up on the sofa and reading together, this is a thoroughly modern fairytale for anyone who has ever wanted to just be themselves.
The Lighthouse Princess is available from retailers nationwide now.
A digital copy of The Lighthouse Princess was provided to Katie for the purposes of this review. All views are those of the reviewer.
Follow Katie’s frugal journey of gardening and home-cooking at @thatfugalmum on Instagram.
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