(A) Ages 0-4, (B) Ages 4-8, (C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, (E) Ages 12-15, (F) Ages 15-18, (G) Ages 16 and up, Book Reviews, Christian, Fairy/Folk Tale/Myth, Family Read Alouds, Fantasy, Middle Grades, Raising Readers, Starred Reviews
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The Light Princess by George MacDonald {Rabbit Room edition}

A beautiful new edition of The Light Princess complete with foreword by Jennifer Trafton, afterword by Andrew Peterson, and illustrated by Ned Bustard.

The Light Princess by George MacDonald. Rabbit Room Press, 2019. 102 pages.

  • Reading Level: Ages 10-12
  • Recommended For: EVERYONE

The story of The Light Princess is familiar to many: a king and queen think they are unable to have children. Finally, the queen has a daughter, and a christening celebration is planned. Unfortunately, someone is left out of the invitations by accident; the king’s sister, Princess Makemnoit, angrily attends the christening anyway and casts a spell on the tiny infant. Sound familiar? If you are thinking of Sleeping Beauty, rest assured that the two stories differ wildly from this point hence. Princess Makemnoit’s spell runs as follows:

Light of spirit, by my charms,

Light of body, every part,

Never weary human arms–

Only crush thy parents’ heart!

What follows is a frolicsome exploration of the many meanings of “light.” Puns and mishaps delight young readers. A prince appears, sacrificial love is called upon, and they all live happily ever after.

MacDonald’s story is a classic with good reason, and every home library should have a copy. Thankfully, there are many editions from which to choose! What sets the new Rabbit Room copy apart from its many competitors?

Jennifer Trafton’s foreword, “A Faerie Wind,” is one of the better homages to George MacDonald that I’ve read (and I, like Trafton, did my bachelor’s and master’s thesis on MacDonald; I’ve read many homages to this talented author!). Beautifully written, she succinctly highlights MacDonald’s imaginative power and the importance that stories like The Light Princess should have for us as Christians:

Therefore, the imagination is a gift that should be carefully cultivated in both young and old–baptized by the beauty of nature and art, nourished by stories that point to the Great Story, led further and further on the path to holiness.

~Jennifer Trafton, “A Faerie Wind”

Andrew Peterson reminds readers in his afterword, “Gobsmacked,” that we must read Scripture and fairy tales both with a willingness to be gobsmacked, watching for mystery.

But mystery also means that grace and light can come whooshing in, too, so you might as well keep an eye out. You might as well hope for a prince to wander in, fall in love with you, and lay down his life to make you whole, even though you don’t deserve it.

~Andrew Peterson, “Gobsmacked”

Ned Bustard illustrated this new edition with linocuts that include allusions to MacDonald’s other fantasy works. While I appreciate Bustard’s style in general, I didn’t like them in this book… at first. There’s a disconnect between the lovely, leather cover that reminds me of illuminated manuscripts and the heavier style of the linocuts. However, they grew on me as I read. They won’t distract from the tale and may, for MacDonald fans, add much to their enjoyment of this classic story.

We’re fans of The Light Princess and used it as one of our “anchor texts” during our most popular summer reading adventure. This new edition offers a nicely bound “gift” book, but it will also enrich your understanding of MacDonald’s influence on authors such as C. S. Lewis as well as introduce you to his work if you are unfamiliar with it. Highly recommended!

You may purchase it from the Rabbit Room store while copies last!

Considerations:

  • One illustration features two merpeople, one a mermaid with nothing on top. Her arms are discreetly placed, but some readers may wish to know! (p. 68)
  • Do see our earlier post on The Light Princess for some excellent discussion questions. Let us be gobsmacked by its Truth and Story first, but let us always be watchful for opportunities to carry the discussion further!

Overall Rating: 5/5

  • Artistic Rating: 5
  • Worldview/Moral Rating: 5

*indicates a starred review, a best of the best. See our other starred reviews.

Related Reading from Redeemed Reader

Have YOU read The Light Princess? Another fairy tale by George MacDonald? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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