A sensational book,
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This review is from: The Apple-Pip Princess (Paperback)
Both my daughters love this book and ask for it over and over again. It is beautifully told and illustrated, like all Jane Ray books. I had to look hard for an affordable second hand copy and wish it was in print again. I tweeted the publishers but they just referred me to other Jane Ray books.
I like this more than Doll's House Fairy and Can You Catch a Mermaid, though all of them are lovely and popular in my house. The story is the king is a widower with three daughters. As he's getting old he asks each of them to find a way to impress him, to help him decide who to leave his kingdom to. The death of his wife has led to the death of the kingdom - nothing grows, the air is arid and the people are starving and poor. The elder two daughters exploit the poor and threaten them (mildly) and come up with worthless showy towers. The youngest daughter, Serenity, uses her mother's personal treasure box to bring the people in the land together in a programme of mass planting and farming touched with a little magic (a nightingale's song, a strip of rainbow, a dewy spider web, and one apple pip). A week later the land is verdant and full of potential and the people have found a new purpose. The king gives the kingdom to Serenity. No one is a baddy and everyone gathers together under a tree to picnic and listen to nightingale song and love everyone else.
It doesn't hurt that the princesses are brown skinned and dark haired.