PRINCESS ZAARA AND THE ENCHANTED FOREST by Umbreen Asghar
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
Released: September 2009
Review Format: Childrens Picture/Story book
Source: Received from the author with thanks.
Age Range: 4-8 (independant reading age 7-8)
A captivating and magical tale,Princess Zaara and the Enchanted Forest, by children’s author Umbreen Asghar is the sort of tale that sparks the imagination and fuels a child’s curiosity. With lavish, highly stylized illustrations by Diane Lucas, this beginning children’s book introduces a curious Spanish princess named Zaara. She’s seven and the only thing she wants in the whole wide kingdom is to explore the forest that is just beyond her empire, so when she gets a chance, she jumps at it. She discovers that the forest is all she has ever heard or dreamed about, and there in the mesmerizing dark folds, keeping her royal lineage a secret, she makes friends. They’re a curious lot. There’s Morgan the Giant, Elvin the Elf, Banji the Bear and Tiffany-Annabel, all who bring something special to the group. When an evil wood spirit puts a spell on her new pals, Zaara shows courage and tenacity befitting the best sort of princess—the kind that is a friend first.My son gets so excited every time the postman puts a parcel through the door. Usually its books for me, but he still loves to see what’s inside and look at the pretty covers. When I told him he was getting his own book to review just like Mummy, he was so excited.
Synopsis from Goodreads
R is just 4 ½ years old, in his first year at school and his most favourite time of day is story-time. When the book arrived I let him have a look at it on his own first and he oo’d and ahhh’d over the beautiful illustrations for quite a long time, each page getting careful scrutiny. “Mummy, it’s beautiful!” where his first words after receiving it. Then we settled down for some magical story-time.
The first read through we did went rather slowly as there were quite a few words he hadn’t come across before and it took me a while to explain their meaning. At first I thought he wasn’t enjoying it so much as he had such a frown on his face, but when asked he said, ‘Don’t stop Mummy, I’m just concentrating’.
Since that first day we have read this book maybe 4 or 5 times and he still loves the story and has specifically requested it at bedtime on a couple of occasions. He acts out some bits of it as I’m reading and he’s even had a go at reading some of the smaller words himself. In fact when I went to find the book this morning so that I could give it a re-read myself before writing this review, I couldn’t find it anywhere. It eventually turned up in his bed as he’d obviously been looking at it again himself last night.
R had some favourite characters - Princess Zaara “she’s so pretty!” and the little fairy Tiffany-Annabel “because she throws magic dust around and makes magic happen”. He wasn’t so keen on Banji and I could see why. Although the character in the book was funny, the pictures of him where a little scary. It was the eyes. You might just be able to see him in the trees on the book cover – like a teddy bear.
His favourite part of the story was when Tiffany-Annabel arrives and magically makes all the flowers looks bright and pretty. He also thought it was hilarious when the nasty man made one of the characters bark like a dog.
From my adult point of view, I really enjoyed reading this story to him. It is well written with a cute storyline and the illustrations are colourful and pretty. With a fairytale Princess, a fairy, a giant and other magical creatures, this is definitely a book any little girl would love. I do also think it’s suitable for boys in the younger age range, maybe up to about 5 or 6 because most of the other characters, including the baddie are male and R certainly enjoyed it.
Our rating: 4 stars