A king and queen are in despair. After years of marriage, they are yet to be blessed with a child. Finally a lovely daughter is born to them. They plan a grand christening ceremony for the baby, but as destiny would have it, they forget to invite the nastiest lady in the kingdom, who also happens to be the king's sister, the evil Princess Makemnoit. Now if all that seems distinctly familiar to you, it was meant to! Using the _Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose_ fairytale as a starting point, Scottish writer George MacDonald creates a story that's even more enchanting and gives it a nice little twist. In _The Light Princess_, published in 1864, the cruel aunt Makemnoit curses her hapless niece to become bereft of gravity! The spell she chants says, “_Light of spirit, by my charms. Light of body, every part. Never weary human arms. Only crush thy parents' heart_!” by which the child begins to float all over the place. The slightest breeze could cause her to fly away. Her parents and the entire palace are exhausted trying to keep her rooted to the ground. The princess grows into a lovely, but very tall young woman. She discovers that swimming keeps her on earth, but soon her wicked aunt decides that she didn't deserve even this small enjoyment. Finally, as in all fairytales, it is a handsome prince who succeeds in bringing our heroine down to earth. George MacDonald was a playwright, poet and Christian minister. He deeply influenced many people and was mentor to children's writer, Lewis Carroll, whom he encouraged to publish Alice after it was first written. He also had a great impact on other writers like Mark Twain, Tolkein and Walter de la Mare. His circle of friends included Ruskin, Tennyson, Trollope, Dickens and Wilkie Collins. In America he was admired by Walt Whitman and Longfellow. Though his works concern fantasy themes, he didn't intend them to be read only by children. He said, “I write not for children, but for the child-like, whether they be five or fifty or seventy-five.” He was deeply humanist in thinking and his theology was of a compassionate and optimistic variety. He used fantasy more as a medium for exploring the real human condition and his works are tinged with wit and humor. _The Light Princess_ has been adapted as a very successful musical and the story lends itself wonderfully to fantastic stage innovations and techniques. It is a great addition to your bookshelf and should be thoroughly enjoyed by both children and grownups.
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