Also “The Princess Who Could Not Laugh.”
I loved this book as a kid but couldn’t remember the name. I searched lists of books by A. A. Milne but didn’t recognize the title because I was looking for ”fairy tales’ something.
The charming illustrations were done by Mary Shepard who also illustrated the Mary Poppins books.
Prince Rabbit is about a talking rabbit who competes for a throne with a human nobleman. Prince Rabbit is very quick-witted which helps him succeed in the tests.
For instance, one of the tests is to answer what seven times six is.
Prince Rabbit knows the King is trying to fix the contest and make his human opponent win. The other man says the answer is 54.
Prince Rabbit’s turn is next. He says:
Your Majesty, there are several possible answers to this extraordinarily novel conundrum. At first sight the obvious solution would appear to be ‘forty-two.’ The objection to this solution is that it lacks originality. I have long felt that a progressive country such as ours might well strike out a new line in the matter. Let us agree that in the future seven sixes are ‘fifty-four.’
But I liked “The Princess Who Could Not Laugh” even better. For one thing, it had a girl character.
The king in this story loves jokes but his daughter never laughs and he becomes determined to find a way to change her. He offers her hand in marriage and half the kingdom to any man who can make her laugh.
The chief suitors/contestants are Count Hippo and Count Rollo. The Princess favors Rollo, especially since Hippo just wants the kingdom. But neither of them can make her laugh despite some funny jokes.
In rereading it, I found a passage that I really liked. It’s a bit sentimental but, well, why not?
Nothing is so pleasant as to tell a funny story to somebody whom you love, to watch the smile coming on her face, and to hear her sudden laughter, and then to linger with her, your laughter catching new life from hers, in happy enjoyment of the joke.