Author : Raman
Illustrator : Emila Yusof
Publisher's Review : Peter Duke
At last we have a book about Malaysia’s princesses. Malaysian children have been immersed for years in tales about foreign princesses such as Snow White and many others. Now they can read about their own princesses, all beautiful, brave and wise. Many of them were warriors and some fairy princesses with a wonderful story the equal of anything from Disney. Some are historical figures though their stories have surely been embellished over the years.
The first princess, Princess Gunung Ledang is perhaps the best known of all the fairy princesses as she is reputed to have made impossible demands of the Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca when he proposed marriage. She lives even to today, at the top of Mount Ledang in Johor and is still as beautiful as ever.
Other fairy princesses include two beautiful sisters, Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang who lived in the sky and painted the land but who fell out and shared a tragic end. Princess Ulek, another fairy princess, ruled the sea. When her sisters fell in love with a young fisherman she made them give him up and send him back to land and his village.
Princess Cik Siti Wan Kembang from Kelantan was known to have been a real beauty, skilled in martial arts and spoke many languages. She received many visitors who came bearing presents including the small mouse dear or kijang. Until today the kijang appears on the state flag. As she did not marry, she adopted Princess Saadong, the daughter of a close friend. Princess Saadong bravely defended her kingdom against the King of Siam. She finally gave in to him but got her own back and saved her honour and her kingdom.
When we turn the page we see the figure of a demure Chinese girl, Princess Hang Li Po who is reputed to have come from China and married Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca becoming his fifth wife. The story goes that she travelled with five hundred beauties as her attendants who married into the local population giving rise to the Nyonya people who are famous for their cooking, their dress and culture.
And then there was Princess Bidasari who was mistreated by her stepmother but eventually married the king . . . sounds familiar.
In his foreword to the book, Raman describes the research that he carried out when preparing these stories and provides us with his interpretation of some of them. Emila’s illustrations of the princesses are bold and beautiful.
Add this book to your bookshelf!