Review of Violet Eyes by Debbie Vigue'; Simon Pulse, 2010.
The only life Violet has ever known is living on a farm and helping her parents. One morning following a terrible storm, the family’s farmhand finds a man who has been hit in the head by a falling tree branch. The family provides food and shelter while the man heals, and they discover, to their surprise, that he is Prince Richard, heir to the country’s throne. It is love at first sight for Violet, who decides to compete against many princesses for Prince Richard’s hand in marriage.
This charming story is the retelling of the fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea”, with added twists and turns. In the original, the only test given is sensitivity to a pea under a mattress, which is the last test in this book. In this version, there are a number of challenges, which are hidden, disguised as other tests. While the princesses think they are being tested on what they see, the actual contests turn out to be challenges of strong character. The princesses, three of whom become Violet’s close friends, are portrayed as strong, smart women, extremely capable of running any kingdom. This contradicts most stereotypes of fairy tale princesses, usually portrayed as weak, fragile creatures. Prince Richard feels that since he is a man, he should be the one competing for the hand of a princess, and not the other way around; he actually resents his parents for forcing princesses to display their worthiness of him. Violet is a brave, energetic, and endearing heroine, and readers will be cheering for her to pass all of the princess tests.
This book will appeal to young and old, alike. I recommend it for middle school, high school, and public libraries.