The Tossy Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea

A Fairy Tale to Help You Fall Asleep

Written by Susan Verde
Illustrated by Jay Fleck
32 pages  •  Published 2021 (Harry N. Abrams)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Publisher's Summary: Once upon a time there lived a very busy princess who never had trouble falling asleep. Until one night, when a pesky pea changed all that! Without sleep, the princess feels cranky, and clumsy, and filled with worry that she’ll never sleep again. Will this tossy-turny princess ever be able to calm her mind, relax her body, and finally get some rest?
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This riff off of The Princess and the Pea teaches children relaxation skills to use before bed when they are having trouble feeling sleepy (including stretching, taking deep breaths, and doing a mindfulness exercise of placing worries on stars and watching them twinkle and disappear). It’s a fun, well-written read, and it easily leads into a child practicing the relaxation skills along with the Princess. Adults might benefit from joining in as well!
Would a child like it? Many children would enjoy this story and its connection to the familiar fairy tale. It is perhaps a bit long, but it’s quite charming, and empowering as well.
Evidence-Based Practices: Diaphragmatic Breathing, Mindfulness, Relaxation
Tone: Fun, a bit quirky
Story Quality: This story teaches children four relaxation skills to help them to relax before bedtime, which could be quite boring, but this book is really fun! It’s a riff off of The Princess and the Pea–the Princess in this story learns how to fall asleep even though there is a pea between her mattresses that is making her uncomfortable. I love this. The Princess learns the different relaxation skills from her friends around the castle, and they match up with her friends’ jobs (e.g., the royal gardener teaches her to stretch like a lizard before bed; the royal chef teaches her to breathe in slowly through her nose like she’s smelling cookies coming out of the oven; the royal astronomer teaches her to imagine placing her worries on a star and letting them disappear). This is super creative and makes the skills a lot more vivid and fun to practice.
Illustrations: Very adorable, attractive illustrations in bright colors with a relaxing blue-purple theme.
Representation: The Princess is a female hippopotamus. She has a brother who is a male hippopotamus. Her friends are a male bunny gardener, female alligator chef, male bear librarian, and sloth astronomer (no pronouns are used with the astronomer).
Psychological Practices: This book normalizes sleep challenges (all of the Princess’s friends have trouble sleeping sometimes), and it teaches children four skills to use to get ready to fall asleep. It’s empowering and could be the first time a child has really considered that being sleepy isn’t fully out of their control. The four skills include: stretching slowly before bed (like a lizard), taking deep breaths in through their nose (like they’re smelling cookies), relaxing their bodies by lying on the floor with their feet elevated, and imagining placing their worries on stars and watching them twinkle away (a mindfulness exercise).
Concerns: None.

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