I’ve always loved picture books with smart, strong heroines, so when I discovered Cornelia Funke’s A Princess, A Pirate and One Wild Brother at our local bookshop, I had to add it to our personal library. My daughter adored Funke’s lively collection of stories as much as I did, and it was a staple for us to read together when she was younger.
There’s no shortage of gorgeous picture books to share with your kids, but this one in particular, brings together the prose and illustrations to perfection. Funke whisks readers immediately into a world of adventure filled with funny, lovable, and spirited characters. Meanwhile, Kerstin Meyer’s exquisite illustrations draw your eyes to the page, and her details are as much fun to savour as the stories.
The collection opens with The Princess Knight. Little Princess Violetta has three older brothers, and the king decides to bring his daughter up the same way as the boys have been raised. She learns to ride, joust, and fight with swords. Unfortunately, being the youngest and the smallest in the family, Princess Vi struggles to keep up with her brothers. You can’t help but cheer on this determined little girl as she tries to master the same skills as the boys. When the time comes for her to get married, and she’s promised to the winner of a jousting competition, she outwits everyone. Go, Princess Vi!
Equally as inspiring is Molly, the main character in Pirate Girl. One day, as she’s sailing alone to visit her grandmother, she’s kidnapped by a band of pirates. Captain Firebeard thinks he can get a handsome ransom for Molly, but she refuses to tell him who her parents are. He sentences her to work on his ship, scrubbing and cleaning and polishing, but not to worry: she has a plan. There’s a surprise twist as to who her mother is—and she’s more fierce than Firebeard and his pirates. This is a family of women to be reckoned with.
In the last story, The Wildest Brother is a young boy named Ben. Thanks to his vivid imagination, he spends his days taking care of slime-burping monsters, green ghosts, and the other dangerous creatures lurking about his house. The lovely part of this story is his relationship with his big sister, Anna. Here’s where the illustrations truly enhance the story: the prose tells us Ben is bravely protecting Anna, but the drawings show that she's barely batting an eyelash and is humouring her little brother. At the end of the story, as darkness settles on the house, it’s Anna that lovingly protects this brave boy. As a mother, I loved the sense of family that shines through.
Funke's stories unfold with humour and warmth. This collection is perfect for reading with your child anytime, but especially at bedtime, when it will ensure your little one goes to bed with a smile. When Kate grew older, and we had to make room on her shelves for other books, A Princess, A Pirate, and One Wild Brother was a treasured book that we couldn't part with.
Princess Knight, Pirate Girl, and The Wildest Brother are also available individually as stand-alone books.
Two kids, two cats, and a house full of books. We share our favourite picks for young readers.