I've recently sketched out a couple of poems related to "The Princess and the Pea," which got me curious about other versions out there -- so I borrowed some picture-book retellings from the library.
My favorite, by far, is Lauren Child's take on the matter. Two things stand out for me:
(1) the focus is not only on the prince's search for a "real" princess, but on the princess's curiosity and her appetite for beauty, which leads her out into the night in the first place ("The moonlight shone in such a magical way that she wondered to herself if it could possibly look as beautiful on the other side of the garden wall. . .") And, much later, picking up a teacup:
The princess couldn't help thinking there was something romantic, something dramatic, something...strangely charming about his clumsiness, and she bent down to pick up the cup. A real princess will always pick up your teacup if you drop it -- kindness is practically their middle name -- but this was not the only reason she did so.
There was a light in the prince's dark eyes that reminded her of all the stars in the night sky.
(2) I really
like that Child has the princess refrain from admitting she didn't sleep well until the king directly asks her what's wrong. Because this was indeed bothering me about the earlier versions I'd read:
...the queen was forgetting that any real princess has such impeccable manners that it would be impossible for her to tell her host, who had gone to all the effort of making her a bed stacked with twelve feather mattresses, that, in fact, it was the most uncomfortable night that she had ever had, in all her life.
(Mind, I still have issues with the whole specialness-of-royal-bodies conceit, but that's something I'll tangle with some more in the sketchbook. [I've just been reminded that my MA thesis was pretty much on this topic; apparently this bee is doomed to permanent residence in my bonnet.])
There's a review by Joanna Carey at The Guardian
that describes more to like about the book, primarily from a visual point of view.