Everyone wants to feel useful, especially the little princess in author Margie Markarian’s newest picture book, The Princess and the Cafe on the Moat.
In the book, a little princess is so royal and so special, she is not required to do anything all day except be the princess. Her services are not needed anywhere: the court jester has no time to teach her how to jest; the minstrel has no time to teach her to pluck the mandolin; and the wizard feels his potions are too dangerous for her to learn.
The little princess feels unneeded and unnecessary…two awful feelings that no princess (or anyone else, for that matter) should ever feel. Heartbroken, she wanders away from the castle and soon encounters common people with common problems they wouldn’t mind others helping them solve. She meets a man who can’t read, a widow in need of a babysitter, and a squire who has skinned his knee and needs a bit of comforting. The little princess is so happy to help these people in need that she doesn’t realize the castle is in an uproar at her disappearance.
The princess and the Cafe on the Moat is a sweet little book about our basic human need to be needed, and our desire to be helpful. Ms. Markarian’s prose is not only gentle, it is perfect for children ages 4 to 8 who are only just learning what it is like to feel necessary and needed. The fast-paced story line identifies what it is like to be little and overlooked, but it offers a solution (which the little princess figures out on her own!) to feeling useless by seeking out others one can help along life’s way. Artist Chloe Douglass’ illustrations are kid-friendly and diverse, with an array of characters (including African American) on every page.
Use this book to open a discussion about being little, feeling needed, and learning how to help others.