This lovely story follows the traditional fairy tale format, but with a twist. Since the Queen’s death, the land has become stark and the people sad. The king, who is getting old, decides to choose one of his three daughters to reign in his place after his passing. To win his approval, a daughter must do something to make him proud within a week. The first two daughters are egotistical and in their pursuit of fame they cause even more suffering for the people. The third daughter, whose name is Serenity, chooses a gentle more giving approach. In her success, the land returns to fertility and happiness.
The fact that Jane Ray chooses girls to tell this story of three children in competition for the crown gives an interesting twist to a traditional framework. She also chooses to use people of color. I was pleased to see that it was not an act of courage or daring that won the crown. Instead, behaving as a benevolent and peaceful ruler was the best choice. The heroine is “shy and quiet and ordinary.”
The illustrations have fanciful elements in the buildings, metal works, plants, clothing, and articles in Serenity’s special box of her mother’s keepsakes. The illustrations of the two towers are particularly detailed. Her pictures, especially the two page spreads, vividly portray this and the uniqueness of the kingdom. She has a lovely way of framing the text on several pages.
The story would be an excellent addition to any teacher’s unit on fairytales. It lends itself well to discussions on values and is especially relevant to popular culture’s pursuit of ostentatious possessions and self-indulgence.