Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool by Margaret Gray

The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, by Margaret Gray
Release Date: October 1, 2002
Publisher: Henry Holt and co.
Pages: 176
Received: Library book
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Amazon Page
Everyone knows that the third and youngest princess is the most beautiful, so you can imagine the surprise of the kingdom of Couscous when the third princess Rose turns out, well, rather ugly. Rose and the kingdom adjust to this anomaly, but when a strikingly handsome prince comes looking for a beautiful princess to fall in love with, Rose begs her fairy godmother for beauty. Her distracted godmother complies and the wish goes predictably awry. Apparently, you can't just wish wishes away (the fairy godmother council frowns upon such things), but there are quests and such to help undo unwanted wishes. Helping her along the way is a charming and funny wise man in disguise (the king outlawed wise men, they made him nervous). 


I adore this author! I hope she writes more, and SOON! The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool is an absolutely hilarious fractured fairy tale. Margaret Gray pokes fun at all kinds of fairy tale stereotypes and common occurrences in a way that is just laugh out loud funny. What I also really appreciated is that, while she is poking fun at fairy tale conventions, she isn't doing it with malice. Instead, all of her fun is good-natured ribbing.

The lessons she includes are sweet and unobtrusive. They're good, easy to digest, and don't beat you over the head with morality. I find that stories for tweens are sometimes a little too obvious and pedantic for adults to really enjoy. This isn't the case at all here. There also isn't just one moral in this story. There are several, and each is deftly handled so the point hits home but doesn't feel at all tiresome. I'm far outside the target age group, but I still loved the story and found value in the messages.

There is a laugh to be had on almost every page (actually, I think this is probably one of the funniest books I've read), but the story's moral makes this more than just a funny book. While perfectly suitable for tweens, young adults and adults can find much to like here. I highly, highly recommend this book to all ages.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key   


  1. Just the title of this book draws me in! This sounds so fun, I'll have to put it on my (massive) TBR list.

  2. Oh do so! It's a super quick read (it's less than 200 pages, and it has a ton of big illustrations). The prequel is just as funny (The Lovesick Salesman). They're both really funny, and they're both standalone books.

  3. From the Comment Exchange.

    This sounds like a great book hurled at the younger audience but the older ones can find joy in it too. I love that this book holds both large amounts of fun and laughter whilst still being strong in it's morals and messages. Not many books can do that, it's either one or the other.

    I'm sure to have to check it out. Sweet review.

  4. Me too, that's why I love this book so much. It's really great for teachers or parents reading to their kids because both ages can get enjoyment from the book.


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