The Princess and the Christmas rescue by Caryl Hart
Ill. by Sarah Warburton. Nosy Crow, 2017. ISBN 9780857637079
Kept in her beautiful palace at the top of the world by parents who fear for her safety because of what lives in the surrounding forest, Princess Eliza is lonely But even though she is stuck inside all day with no one to play with, she is resourceful and she figures out how to make almost anything with a few bits of wood and some string - including her own toys! But her parents think that her mechanical inclinations aren't suited to a princess, and tell her she'd be better off devoting her time to searching for a friend.
But not being allowed to go out into the world makes that a tricky thing, and even drawing on her fairytales doesn't help - the gingerbread man skedaddles, the frog she kisses doesn't turn into a prince and even dangling her long hair out the window brings no visitors. But as she sits at the window she smells smoke drifting over the trees and is determined to find out who is making it and she slips out into the forest. As a huge shaggy shape looms up out of the snow she is frightened but it turns out to be a friendly deer who carries to his master's house where she finds elves who are overworked and despondent because Santa has the flu and they're unlikely to finish all the orders before Christmas Eve.
But Eliza knows just what to do - at last all that time spent with paper and paperclips, scissors and glue comes in very handy, but can she save Christmas?
Recommended by A Mighty Girl for being a story that empowers girls and encourages them to be "smart, confident and courageous" this certainly meets these criteria. From defying her parents and going into the forest, demonstrating her inventive intelligence in an elves-and-shoemaker kind of way to save Christmas and yet still keeping her feet on the ground (sort of), this is a story that will appeal to girls everywhere and help take the sting from the word 'princess' that it has acquired over the last decade or so. Being clever, imaginative and inventive is not restricted to boys! And it could well be the springboard for kickstarting some problem-solving as Makerspaces need new life breathed into them at the beginning of 2018. Students could brainstorm the other sorts of problems that Santa might encounter as he tries to meet everyone's requests and then they could invent something to solve them.
A joyful, fun story that will be a permanent part of my Christmas Countdown.