Free download options:
A4 Format (PDF file, large print, 8 pages)
Eco Format (PDF file, smaller print, 3 column landscape setup, 2 pages when printed back-to-back)
For Parents and Teachers: Author’s Notes
I actually wrote this story several years ago, while still a little under the influence of Disney. I didn’t know what to do with it since it was too short to interest a traditional book publisher and too long for a picture book, and many writing contests refuse to consider stories for children. Between the first draft and the idea to launch StoryTeller and write more of these fairytales, I became a feminist. So, when I re-read this story hoping to use it, I cringed. It even had a line about “all eligible young ladies” being invited to the ball where the prince would choose one of them for a wife.
But at the heart of the story is the idea of a princess attending a ball dressed in “rags” and then having a great time chatting to someone other than the prince. And the mischief of Queen Marella, who must have had a lot of fun dreaming up the idea of parting the two princesses from their dresses to help them realise a few things, namely:
For Annabel: that it is important to care about the feelings of others to some degree. I felt quite nervous about leaving poor Annabel in the lurch, so I wanted to include a few hints that her parents knew what Queen Marella was planning and would very likely be home when she returned to help her work through the lessons she’d been forced to learn. You might want to ask your child how s/he feels about who gets to decide whether someone needs to “learn a lesson”.
For Emily: not to take herself so seriously, and to relax and learn to present herself to the world as her own self, not a “pretty package”. She also realised that some people (including herself) only notice the “packaging” – Tom didn’t recognise Emily and she didn’t recognise Queen Marella.
What do you think of Queen Marella’s tactics? Much as I love her strong character and great sense of humour, what she did doesn’t really sit well with me. I don’t like the idea of humiliating people, for whatever reason. I think, though, that it was never Queen Marella’s intention to humiliate either of the sisters, and that it was the sheer exasperation of Annabel’s rudeness towards her, along with the “choice” that Annabel actually made herself, that led Marella to give her what she “deserved” before she really lost her temper with Annabel.
Something else this story raises is the effect that wealth, beautiful clothes, glamour, pomp and ceremony, and the promise of romance have on people. We’ve just seen it recently with a new royal wedding. Emily felt that this level was denied her in her plain clothes, whereas Maggie was almost intoxicated by the excitement of the event and being included in a circle that she’d never dreamed she would reach. Why do we feel special when we spend hours grooming ourselves and wear something we normally wouldn’t wear? Is this the only way we can feel this way, or are there other options? You might like to explore this point with your child. For me, physical exercise can give me that endorphin rush, especially if I’m doing something fun with friends and family.
Here are the other questions included in the book. Feel free to discuss these below, or add more questions for us to think about.
1. Why do you think Annabel felt she had to outdo Emily at everything?
2. Why do you think the king and queen were amused by their daughters’ quarrel? Do you think they knew what the other queen was planning?
3. Why do you think Emily helped the old woman while Annabel refused to help her?
4. What do you think happened to Annabel? Do you think she understood how Emily might have felt when she discovered her ruined dress?
5. Why do you think Emily felt shy at the ball? Do you think people judge others by how they dress or what they look like?
6. Why do you think Maggie was so happy? What effect do you think music, dancing, and wealth has on someone who is not used to it?