It's getting colder and if you've been digging out the extra blankets lately, then this might be the perfect children's fairy tale to read.
I was intrigued to pick up The Princess' Blankets because it's written by one of my favourite poets - Carol Ann Duffy who is also England's current Poet Laureate, and the first woman to hold the job.
It's the story of a princess who is very, very cold and nothing her parents do - lighting warm fires, dressing her in layers of fleece - can make her warm. Finally the king announces a reward to anyone who can find a solution. Along comes a stranger with "hard, gray eyes like polished stones" who promises he can warm the princess up and as a reward, he wants her for his wife. But the princess finds him arrogant and when the stranger asks how cold she feels, she replies "As cold as the ocean is." He immediately creates a blanket made up of all the oceans and tosses it onto her body, but she still isn't warm. Blankets of forests, mountains and finally the Earth are subsequently piled upon her - to the consternation of the rest of the kingdom which is now bereft of the things it needs to survive. It takes a musician with a lovely tune and warm lips to save the day.
This is one of those romantic fairy tales that can be read by and to adults as well (ahem, those blankets come off the princess fairly quickly after she falls in love with the musician), but the beautiful and moody oil paintings by Catherine Hyde have enough embossed foil and sparkle to enchant little princesses too. It certainly warmed the cockles of this cynical old heart.