Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review - Pterapunzel

Pterapunzel (Once Before Time)
by Christy Webster
illustrated by Gladys Jose
Date: 2020
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Pterapunzel loves to sing, but a mean witch tries to keep her from sharing her songs! From Epic! Originals, Once Before Time is a playful board book series of fairy tales reimagined from a time long ago . . . with dinosaurs!

In this prehistoric retelling of the classic story, Pterapunzel is held captive by a witch who wants Pterapunzel’s beautiful songs all to herself. When the unthinkable happens, Pterapunzel must find the strength to fly and be reunited with her bagpiper friend!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Oh, dear. I think this is the weakest installment in this series yet. Unfortunately, the first book, Cinderella Rex, was so much stronger. Subsequent books, when compared with the first, are bound to come up short.

Pterapunzel is the story of a pterodactyl named Pterapunzel who is captured by an evil witch for no apparent reason other than that the witch likes to listen to the girl sing and wants the pleasure all for herself. The witch casts a spell to make Pterapunzel's hair grow into a rope that can be climbed. One day, a prince happens upon the tower and hears Pterapunzel's singing. He climbs up her hair and they have a jam session. At the end of that, he tells her he's going to go get a ladder so she can escape the tower. But the witch sees him leaving. She climbs Pterapunzel's hair, then cuts it off, leaving them both trapped. But Pterapunzel realizes she can fly, so she escapes, leaving the witch in the tower. After meeting up with the prince, she sings (and he plays his bagpipes) and everyone lives happily ever after (except the trapped witch, I'm guessing).

There are a few nods to Disney's version of the story here. The witch looks an awful lot like Mother Gothel (down to the curly hair and hooded cape). Pterapunzel's even shown holding a frying pan. But so many of the better elements of the story--ones Disney kept in its version--are stripped out. Pterapunzel has zero backstory; we don't even know if she has parents. The prince doesn't have a brush with death (or blindness, as in the original) and get saved by the heroine. The inciting incident involving a plant doesn't even exist... which makes the witch's captivity of Pterapunzel seem really random and odd. She just finds a girl with a pretty voice and tosses her in a tower as her own personal radio? Okay...

The illustrations are basic and colourful, but not especially memorable. I haven't really liked the pictures in these books since the first one.

The overall premise of this series is really cute (fairy tales with dinosaurs!) but the last two installments have been pretty weak. They read like they're meant for very young children, and though I realize that they are board books, I didn't get that talked-down-to feeling from Cinderella Rex. This book might be fine for toddlers and preschoolers, but I don't know if anyone older than that is going to be too impressed.

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5


  1. Too looks adorable! Thanks for the share!

    1. Yes... I'm finding that the concept of these books is better than the actual execution!