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Book Review: The Apple-Pip Princess

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Jane Ray’s beautiful story

It’s not often that I find a book written and illustrated by the same person that I enjoy.  Typically one or other element is lacking (the illustrations are gorgeous, but the story is dull, or vice versa).   So I was thrilled when we found Jane Ray’s The Apple-Pip Princess. 

The story was very engaging, and the illustrations were breathtaking!  The artwork so unusual, unlike anything else, and quite stunning.  Reporter, Caroline Stockwell (Illustration Magazine, Summer 2006 issue) said of her work,

Ray’s style was, and is, unmistakable. Her use of shapes and vibrant hues, described by the Times Educational

Image from Apple-Pip Princess, Jane Ray

Supplement recently as an “exuberant patterning and celebration of colour”, is influenced by the Mediterranean and Middle East. It was her borders, in particular, that made her card designs so special: intricate, but not busy; decorative, but enhancing, rather than detracting from, the main image. Many of her designs in the early 1980s focused on urban scenes, but ones that were decidedly more exotic than those to be found in London. They showed cities in India and views of Venice – a plethora of softly shaded minarets, domed roots and towers rising from hillside towns. The skies behind them were as sultry as an Andalucian sunset. There were gold-tinged palaces and palm-lined walkways with perspectives that drew on her student years studying ceramics at Middlesex University. (See full article here.)

Magic Page image from Jane Ray’s book

Look at the lovely detail on left page of the image to the left.  When we got to the page on the right, my oldest daughter called out, “oh, that’s the magic page!” Meaning the one that matched the cover.  I thought she meant the one on the left (which is full of magical items) and then she explained her definition of “magic page.”  For us, it was one of those sweet, sublime, childhood moments, when you can tangibly feel a  shimmer of something  in the air.

This story is about a king who has three daughters.  His wife has died and he has grown old.  He tells the princesses that he will leave the kingdom to whoever can go out and make him proud.  The youngest, daughter humbly goes forward and uses her talents and her mother’s legacy to heal the kingdom and save the day.  It’s a lovely story, and with the amazing artwork of Jane Ray, I felt absolutely transported to a different time and place.

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