The Princess and Mr. Whiffle – A Children’s Book Not For Children
By all appearances The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed is a sweet childhood tale of a princess and her teddy bear but this is no book for children. I checked it out at the library a few weeks ago knowing nothing about it but that it was written by Patrick Rothfuss (whose Name of the Wind novels are incredible, but that’s a review for another time). Well, I forgot about it until my wife called me at work, our call went something like this (spoilers are included but I was “spoiled” and it didn’t take anything away from the book for me):
Wife: Did you check out a book about a princess at the library?
Me: Yeah, I totally forgot about that.
Wife: I thought it was a book the kids picked out so I just read it to them.
Me: That wasn’t a kids book.
Wife: Yes, I know that now; but it was in the middle of the other children’s books in the library bag.
Me: Was it bad?
Wife: No, it started out just fine. The princess and her teddy bear have some adventures, she knows there is a monster under her bed but it doesn’t really bother her. She then gets a cat and the cat goes missing (at this point I am thinking the monster must of eaten the cat or something and she just read this to my 7 and 5 year olds).
Wife: So she looks for the cat and discovers it is under the bed with the monster, then the monster comes out and wants to be friends.
Wife: And then she eats them.
Me: She does what?
Wife: The princess eats the monster under the bed and the kitten and makes a fort out of their bones.
(at this point I am laughing)
Me: And you just read this to the kids?
Well apparently after my wife explained that this was just a pretend story, on the page where the princess eats everyone, they got quite the chuckle about the whole bones into a fort thing. Needless to say I had to read it as soon as I got home and it was epic. The story is simple but there is a darkness hidden within that is there if you look for it. The story flows very smoothly and keeps a fun tone throughout all the scenes. The artwork also does a great job of portraying a very sweet princess while giving you little hints of her darker side.
The tone of the writing and the playful artwork only makes the surprise ending that much richer (technically the book has three endings, as described on the dust jacket: “One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one is the true ending, the one with teeth in it.”) I am now planning on purchasing my own copy and will be giving it as a gift in the near future. So stop whatever you are doing and head to the library or bookstore and read it. Oh, and my children were not scarred by the reading of this book, who knows your kids might even like it.