In this imaginative but strange picture book, a count invents a flavor of ice cream from a princess’s golden locks and everyone who eats it grows hair all over their bodies.
When Count von Ice de la Cream sees how delicious Princess Clarisse’s hair looks, he asks her father, King Gustav, to waive a law that forbids the removal of any of her hair. All the count needs, he says, is one lock to make the most extraordinary flavor yet. But when villagers eat his hair ice cream, stubble pops up wherever they have skin (even on the palms of their hands). The king is appalled that his subjects look “like monkeys” (or, based on the rather crude illustrations, like Saguaro cacti!) and orders the count to find a cure.
So what does a wacky ice cream maker do? He concocts a flavor from haircutting products and dishes it out. Oddly, the townspeople don’t keel over, but they do go bald, which only frustrates the king more. So, the count goes back to his parlor and comes up with a new flavor to save the day.
The premise is wildly silly, and for that we want to like it, but the idea of eating ice cream that contains hair (and also shaving cream, lotion, barber’s tonic and talcum powder) is not only unappetizing, but hard to imagine, even in a fairy tale.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves giggling at the premise more than with it.
Though Martinez’s story bounces along, the premise is too unpleasant to love, and the illustrations lack sophistication and appeal. This book needs an ice cream flavor kids will squeal for, along with tighter writing, a considerable price cut ($27.99 is far too much to pay for such a paperback picture book) and illustrations that will charm us.
Also available in hardcover.