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“And where had Princess Amelia learned this obscure information about all these exotic animals, anyways? She must spend all her time with her nose in exactly the kind of books he avoided: the fact-filled kind that were supposed to teach you something,” Telmund. – The Prince Problem
The Prince Problem
by Vivian Vande Velde
AR Test, Must Read
Prince Telmund loves to read fables. But in every fable, the oldest children are always bullies. That’s why Telmund was just a little upset when his youngest brother was born. One day, Telmund was racing around, trying to keep his little brother out of trouble, when a nasty witch accused Telmund of being a bully. In an effort to teach Telmund a lesson, the witch cursed him. Now, every time he falls asleep, he will transform into a different type of animal.
Princess Amelia doesn’t care for fairy tales, but she loves facts. The practical princess has a wide range of skills, but none of them will help her escape the ball her parents have planned. Her idealistic parents want Amelia to choose her future husband. Amelia’s parents believe in love at first sight and happily ever after’s. Amelia knows that bad things happen. That’s why she isn’t surprised when Prince Sheridan has her kidnapped.
When Prince Telmund discovers that Princess Amelia is in trouble, he vows to save the princess. But how can a dreamer prince with no skills save the day? Is there any way the two can work together and defeat the dangerous Prince Sheridan?
The Prince’s Problem is a fun, imaginative twist on a fairy tale that has interesting, well-developed characters. When Telmund changes into different animals, he understands that he has the instinct of the animal, and although he understands this, he cannot ignore the animal instincts. Seeing the world through the animal’s point of view adds interest and humor to the story. When Telmund discovers a princess in trouble, he’s determined to help despite his transformations. Telmund wanted to be “like the heroes in stories, who do brave deeds, who help those in need, who keep trying and never give up, and who are unmindful of what danger they might get into if they do the right thing.”
Amelia is not a typical princess. Instead of dresses and jewels, she’s interested in learning about facts. Although she is unconscious for the first part of the story, when she finally awakens, she comes across as a bit bossy. However, as the story progresses, she learns to respect Telmund despite his idealistic nature. When Amelia and Telmund interact, comical misunderstandings and mayhem arise.
In the end, both Amelia and Telmund learn the importance of understanding others, and that “it is unfair to make judgments based on appearance.” Unlike most fairy tales, the prince and the princess must work together. They must use both facts and fairy tale bravery in order to save each other. Although the story is a bit predictable, reading The Prince’s Problem is enjoyable because of the unique aspects of Amelia and Telmund. For those wanting a fresh look at a fairy tale, The Prince’s Problem will entertain and delight.
- A prince that wants to marry Princess Amelia, “gave her a light kiss on the throat as though to seal the bargain. She knew that—in the way of marriages arranged for diplomacy and alliances—there often was a big difference in the ages between the partners. The knowledge didn’t help. Prince Sheridan was her parents’ age, and his intentionally menacing yet flirtatious manner was unsettling. She rubbed her wrist over the spot as though she could wipe the kiss away.”
- When Telmund is a rat, floating down a river, a boy begins throwing stones at him.
- When Telmund is a rabbit, a cat chases him, but Telmund is able to hide under a log. “Telmund pressed his back to the space where ground and log met, and ducked his head. The claws touched his whiskers, but not enough to catch hold of him. The cat hissed and scratched at the dirt.” A fairy saves Telmund.
- Amelia is outside the castle when “she heard the crunch of a footstep behind her. Before she could turn, someone had one arm around her waist and the other around her neck, with his hand over her so that she couldn’t scream—his dirty, foul-smelling hand. No, it was a dirty, foul-smelling cloth that someone was holding over her face.” The cloth had Henbane on it, which caused Amelia’s, “senses swirled dizzying, and the last thing she was aware of was her legs collapsing under her.”
- While riding in the back of a wagon, Amelia sees Telmund, and she assumes he is a villain. “She shoved, and he toppled off the edge of the wagon and onto the road, headfirst. He didn’t get back up. Amelia hoped, in a fuzzy sort of way, that she hadn’t killed him—even if he was a villain.”
- When Telmund is a chicken, someone “slipped a sack over his head” intending to eat him.
- Amelia smacked Telmund on the arm.
- Amelia is able to escape her captors, but when she is in the forest, she saw a man and began to run. “The man ran after her. Still hiding in the water, Telmund could hear the scuffle. It was short-lived. The man came back into view, holding Princess Amelia under his arm as though she were a sack of onions. Amelia kicked and slapped at his arms and legs, and used words most princesses would not.”
- One of Amelia’s captors “took hold of her by the hair, not exactly yanking, but not gently, either, and pulled her head back.”
- As Amelia and Telmund are trying to find their way back to the castle, a person catches Telmund. The man clapped “a hand over his mouth as though to prevent him from calling out . . . in another moment Telmund’s senses swam—probably something to do with the fact that it wasn’t an empty hand held over his mouth but a cloth with a familiar smell.”
- Amelia’s captor “grabbed hold of her by the hair, and this time it could only be called roughly.”
- When a dragon appears, Amelia’s captor lets go of her and “shoved Amelia at the dragon. She stumbled to her knees, sliding forward on the ground, her outstretched and still-bound hands making contact with the dragon scales. . .” Everyone runs off. Amelia is not injured.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Several times, Henbane was used to make someone unconscious.
- A man calls Telmund’s brother a “clumsy oaf.”
- A villain calls his companion a “dunderhead,” a “dolt,” a “twit,” and “pudding head.”
- A villain calls his companion “mush-for-brains.”
- Amelia says Telmund has “porridge for brains.”
- A lord calls someone an “incompetent fool.”
- A witch puts a spell on Telmund, which causes him to transform into different animals. A fairy tells him, “I can see the spell you’re under. Every time you fall asleep, you’ll wake up as something else. Every other time, it’s your natural form.”
- When Telmund changes into a chicken, someone captures him. “Telmund wondered if it was God saying to him, Tell ME the only thing chickens are good for is eating. I spent time creating them, you know, same as I created you.”
- A cook tells Amelia, “God be with you.”