Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: Princess April Morning-Glory

About Princess April Morning-Glory:

At long last, Princess April Morning-Glory emerges as a lost treasure from the golden age of Hollywood.

Written and illustrated in 1941 by Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, the seemingly traditional children’s book is transformed into a modern-day fairy tale that will captivate child and adult readers alike.

Letitia was inspired to create portraiture for the characters of Princess April Morning-Glory from film stars of the day. John Barrymore, and Letitia's cousin Douglas Fairbanks Jr., provided glamorous inspiration through their then-current films. The Wicked King's (Barrymore) costume was sparked by his role as Louis XV in Irving Thalberg's 1938 Marie Antoinette, while the hairstyle resembles his eponymous role in Archie Mayo's 1931 Svengali. Prince Chivalry was inspired by her cousin's (Fairbanks) sword-fighting role in David O. Selznick's 1937The Prisoner of Zenda.

Viewed as unconventional when it first debuted – up until then, no one had thought to meld a Disney-like moral tale with a swashbuckling adventure – the story centers on the prescient acknowledgment that we create our destinies by the choices that we make.

The main narrative is focused around the brave and courageous Princess April who must first transcend darkness and evil before she can realize her true potential. Intrigued by the Great World and its sense of adventure, a young Princess April decides to abandon the familiarity of her home in Fairyland and undertake a voyage into the unknown. Once outside the Enchanted Forest, she finds comfort and friendship in the company of various creatures who ensure her safe passage.

But returning home proves more difficult than at first she realized. In order to go back to Fairyland, a friendly wizard informs Princess April that she must first accomplish three good deeds. Can Princess April resist the temptation of darker forces and summon enough courage to continue doing good deeds? And if she dares to hold true to herself, will it someday lead her back home again?


I jumped at the chance to review this book. It sounded super intriguing for one thing. Plus, any chance I get to combine my reading/reviewing with something my Pixie would like is a nice bonus. This was sort of skirting the edge, as she is almost 12 now. But she is a hard core fairy tale girl. Always has been and I bet always will be, just like her Mom.

When this book arrived, I eagerly waited for my Pixie to get home from school. When she did I showed her the book and told her all about how it had been written and drawn so long ago and now finally published. I think the story behind the book was just as interesting to her as the book itself. She yanked the book out of my hands and immediately sat down to read it. Needless to say, I got it second.

When I finally got the chance to read it, I was blown away. I mean at the core you have this fabulous fairy tale with rich characters and drawings and illustrations that defy description.  Each page I turned was a new adventure and I was torn between poring over the illustrations and actually reading the story! Add to that the fabulous meaning and lesson behind the story and in my opinion you have a winner. This book is something anybody of any age can enjoy, but especially a parent with a child, a grandparent with a grandchild or an aunt with a niece. 

I will be saving this book and letting my Pixie read it to her kids someday. Maybe I will even be reading it to my grand kids.

About Letitia Fairbanks:

Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, lived a life guided by artistic passions. In 1939, wanting to commemorate her late uncle, Letitia began work on Princess April Morning-Glory, allowing a creative outlet for combining her lifelong loves: painting, writing, and illustration.

Holding firm to her artistic identify, Letitia gravitated toward portraiture, landscapes, and still-lifes. She was also a biographer, co-authoringDouglas Fairbanks: The Fourth Musketeer, with Ralph Hancock. Her marriage to Hal Smoot in 1966 marked the beginning of a particularly joyful and creative period. Needle points and annual Christmas cards, which featured a painting from the previous year, not to mention her role as a wife, mother, step-mother and grandmother brought her much fulfillment. After a life rich in artistic accomplishment, Letitia passed away in September of 1992.

About Kelley Smoot Garrett:

Kelley Smoot Garrett was born in Dallas, raised in Manhattan and has lived the life of a West Texas wildcatter as well that of an IT professional. At one time or another in her life she’s called places as diverse as Scourie, Scotland; Austin, Abilene and Midland, Texas; Singapore; Paris; and Auckland, New Zealand — home. She is proud to be the daughter of Sue Ashby and Harold Smoot and the step-daughter of Letitia Fairbanks Smoot. She currently lives with her husband Danny Garrett, three cats, and one happy only-dog, Moxie in the Texas Hill Country.

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