Blog Tour: Princess April Morning Glory by Letitia Fairbanks

At long last, Princess April Morning-Glory emerges as a lost treasure from the golden age of Hollywood.

Written and illustrated in 1941 by Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, the seemingly traditional children’s book is transformed into a modern-day fairy tale that will captivate child and adult readers alike.

Letitia was inspired to create portraiture for the characters of Princess April Morning-Glory from film stars of the day. John Barrymore, and Letitia’s cousin Douglas Fairbanks Jr., provided glamorous inspiration through their then-current films. The Wicked King’s (Barrymore) costume was sparked by his role as Louis XV in Irving Thalberg’s 1938 Marie Antoinette, while the hairstyle resembles his eponymous role in Archie Mayo’s 1931 Svengali. Prince Chivalry was inspired by her cousin’s (Fairbanks) sword-fighting role in David O. Selznick’s 1937 The Prisoner of Zenda.

Viewed as unconventional when it first debuted – up until then, no one had thought to meld a Disney-like moral tale with a swashbuckling adventure – the story centers on the prescient acknowledgment that we create our destinies by the choices that we make.

The main narrative is focused around the brave and courageous Princess April who must first transcend darkness and evil before she can realize her true potential. Intrigued by the Great World and its sense of adventure, a young Princess April decides to abandon the familiarity of her home in Fairyland and undertake a voyage into the unknown. Once outside the Enchanted Forest, she finds comfort and friendship in the company of various creatures who ensure her safe passage.
But returning home proves more difficult than at first she realized. In order to go back to Fairyland, a friendly wizard informs Princess April that she must first accomplish three good deeds. Can Princess April resist the temptation of darker forces and summon enough courage to continue doing good deeds? And if she dares to hold true to herself, will it someday lead her back home again?


Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, lived a life guided by artistic passions. In 1939, wanting to commemorate her late uncle, Letitia began work on Princess April Morning-Glory, allowing a creative outlet for combining her lifelong loves: painting, writing, and illustration.
Holding firm to her artistic identify, Letitia gravitated toward portraiture, landscapes, and still-lifes. She was also a biographer, co-authoring Douglas Fairbanks: The Fourth Musketeer, with Ralph Hancock. Her marriage to Hal Smoot in 1966 marked the beginning of a particularly joyful and creative period. Needle points and annual Christmas cards, which featured a painting from the previous year, not to mention her role as a wife, mother, step-mother and grandmother brought her much fulfillment. After a life rich in artistic accomplishment, Letitia passed away in September of 1992.

Kelley Smoot Garrett was born in Dallas, raised in Manhattan and has lived the life of a West Texas wildcatter as well that of an IT professional. At one time or another in her life she’s called places as diverse as Scourie, Scotland; Austin, Abilene and Midland, Texas; Singapore; Paris; and Auckland, New Zealand — home. She is proud to be the daughter of Sue Ashby and Harold Smoot and the step-daughter of Letitia Fairbanks Smoot. She currently lives with her husband Danny Garrett, three cats, and one happy only-dog, Moxie in the Texas Hill Country.


My Thoughts: 
I love the fact that this book was written and illustrated so long ago, only to be discovered and published now.  The story was pretty good.  It reminded me of Michael Tolkien’s Rainbow in a lot of ways.  I liked it and thought it was entertaining, but it wasn’t something I fell in love with.  I didn’t have a strong opinion about the illustrations one way or the other.  I thought they were okay.

If I had any major criticism of the book, it would be the formatting.  The entire text is set in a heavy, old English font that is really difficult to read.  There are clip art graphics above many of the words that also make the pages overly busy. 

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  • Reply
    Princess April Morning-Glory
    April 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Dena,

    You're not the first modern reader to comment that the old-fashioned, hand-lettered calligraphy that Letitia Fairbanks used in "Princess April Morning-Glory" is hard to read.

    Have you seen the book trailer? I'm curious if you like the animation of the text, and the way it's read in the trailer (visible beginning about 50 seconds through the 2:35 minute trailer. I'm thinking of producing an ebook version that reads & animates the text of the entire book. What do you think? Would that address your issue with the hand-lettering, which can certainly be viewed as out-of-date in today's fast-paced world.

    Curious to hear your feedback on this possible eBook version, and thank you for sharing Letitia Fairbanks' "Princess April Morning-Glory" and her message of Do 3 Good Deeds!

    Kelley Smoot Garrett
    Living representative for
    Letitia Fairbanks

  • Reply
    Kelley Smoot Garrett
    June 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Dena, I have just published the eBook version of Letitia Fairbanks' "Princess April Morning-Glory" and I wanted to send you a copy of this e-version. Because the images have been extracted from the book, and set alongside the text, which, as an eBook, can by any font you want, this e-version addresses your concern about the original hand-lettered font being hard to read. I also hope the eBook, with an extensive list of all 150+ images paired with their hand-lettered and typeset word, will prove a helpful tool for children, in learning to read. I'd love to hear your comments.

    Kelley Smoot Garrett
    Living representative for
    Letitia Fairbanks

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