Monday, June 26, 2017

Children's Book Review: Iron Hearted Violet

by Mollie McFarland, Children's Librarian, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Iron Hearted Violet
Kelly Barnhill

Violet is the only child of the royal family and she’s not your typical princess. She’s clever, daring, willful, and strong but she’s very plain. Unkind people might even call her ugly. Luckily, she’s not the sort of princess who would be bothered by her appearance. Well, not very bothered. She is more interested in exploring the kingdom with her friend, Demetrius, and listening to tales by the court storyteller. She loves stories. That is, until she and Demetrius find themselves at the center of a tale about the last surviving dragon and a plan to revive an evil deity who will lay waste to her kingdom and the whole world. That’s quite a lot for a young princess and her friend to take on! Violet grows to become her own hero in this fantasy world as she learns, once and for all, that a true princess is measured by her bravery, intelligence, and character and not by her appearance.

This is a charming, fast-paced book. The omniscient narrator is a character in and of himself as he sets the stage for a fairy tale that feels both original and familiar. This is a great book for kids and parents who want to celebrate girl power. Violet is a dynamic character that is capable, brave, and strong. Additionally, the story contains female characters in leadership and military positions without calling attention to this break from gender clich├ęs. I listened to the audiobook, which is splendidly narrated by Simon Vance. While the illustrations from the book were wonderful, they were distracting. Violet is drawn as a lovely young woman, possessing none of the physical irregularities described in the story. It goes against the entire lesson of the story to show a beautiful princess rather than the plain, pug-nosed heroine described in the text. Apparently ugliness is fine to read about, but not to view. Regardless, this makes an excellent selection for middle grade readers and fans of fantasy adventure.

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