Article/page published: 09 January 2017
Last updated: 14 January 2017
A long time ago, and far, far away, there were three princes. They were so alike that only their mother could tell them apart. When she died, it seemed that no-one would ever know for sure who was who.
A retelling of a traditional folk tale from the Middle East, with bold, powerful illustrations by Cosei Cawa. The three princes are sent by their father to marry a princess. All three fall in love with her. She falls in love with one of them, but can’t tell which one it is, as they’re so alike. Her father tells the princes to each bring her a gift, and he will choose whoever brings the most magical gift to be her husband.
Following the publication of Nightmare: Two Ghostly Tales, Collins invited me to write another book for their Big Cat series. They suggested a re-telling of the traditional tale, The Three Princes. I read various versions of the old story and then set out to write my own version of it. It’s always fun to do this – the trick is not to take away the bones of the story, because it will collapse, but to add flesh to it, to make it fat! So I worked on developing the characters of the princes and the princess, and enriching the setting with colours and description. The final layer, the ‘clothing’ of the tale, is added by the illustrator. I think Cosei Kawa has given us a very rich picture of Arabia, the costumes, the palaces, the camels, the jewels, and the whole book is beautifully produced by Collins for their Big Cat/Topaz series.