Sleeping Ugly

Yolen, Jane. Sleeping Ugly. New York: The Putnam & Grosset Group, 1997.

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This is a great read-aloud book I’m sure kids will love. Princess Miserella is beautiful, but not nice, and Plain Jane is nice, but not beautiful. They are joined in this tale by a fairy with the ability to grant wishes, who puts all three of them to sleep in Plain Jane’s cottage for one hundred years. They are then discovered by Prince Jojo, who is familiar with fairy tales and princesses, and knows he is responsible for waking these sleeping women up. First he wakes up the fairy, and then Jane, at which point Jane announces, “I wish he loved me” and the fairy grants it. Jojo, looking at Miserella, is familiar with “that kind of princess […] Pretty on the outside. Ugly within.” And so does not kiss her, in fact, she is never awakened, and remains in Jojo and Jane’s happy home as a conversation piece! A good discussion would be the significance of the title. Children should come away understanding that Princess Miserella, though outwardly attractive, was the real “Sleeping Ugly” because she was not kind. I would hope they would not misunderstand and think that “Ugly” was meant for Jane or the old fairy!

Click here to read a feminist analysis of this book.

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