Thursday, February 22, 2007

Princess School

Now Reading: Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China's Eternal First Lady

Sorry I've been slacking lately. It's been a time and lately, my days have been devoted to a male body part on a dog that gets bitten by a rattlesnake...

Higher Power of Lucky is a good book people. I'll talk more about it later. I'm in a princessy mood today...

So, (Cinder) Ella, Snow (White), (Briar) Rose, and Rapunzel are all in school for good princesses-in-training. Their classmates include such characters as Gretl and Red Riding Hood. It's a sweet, fun series that won't win any prizes for being quality literature, but I thoroughly enjoy it!

I like the characterization of the princesses-- they're still the classic characters we know and love, but they're very likable and real at the same time. They also each have their own personality.

Interestingly enough, consistently throughout this entire series, the subplots are much more interesting and engaging than the main plots-- the main plots have a lot more to do with the classic-twisted-fairy tale aspect, but the subplots are where the girls shine as themselves and relate to each other as real people.

In the first book, If the Shoe Fits,Ella is devastated that her fairy godmother isn't around to work her magic and help her fit in to her new school. She has to walk in the mud and doesn't have a lot of time for homework because she has to do all the work at home... but she quickly makes friends to help her out. And, at school, mean tricks are being played on all the first year students. Could the evil steps be behind them? And who will be crowned at the ball?

Next up is Who's the Fairest?. It's sports day! Princess Style! (They're called the Maiden Games.) And they're competing against the Grimm school, where Snow's evil stepmother is the headmistress. Will Snow be able to compete under Maldora's evil glare? Will she let down all her classmates? The best part of this is the subplot-- Rapunzel is team captain and running those girls ragged and Rose is jealous (gasp!) of Ella's new found popularity.

In Let Down Your Hair, Madame Gothel has found out that Rapunzel's been sneaking out of her tower to go to class. That witch is going through great lengths to keep Rapunzel locked up where she belongs, but her friends are here to help. If only Prince Valiant would be there for Rapunzel and stop fawning over Rose!

Beauty Is A Beast finds Rose sick of being over-protected, sick of everyone fawning over her, and just wanting to rebel or at the least be normal! So, she does just that-- rebel. But is finals week really the time to stop doing your homework? Once again, subplots rule the day with Ella's stepmother holding her responsible for the evil stepsisters exam grades. If Ella's always helping them study, when will she study?

In Princess Charming Rapunzel has taught Val everything he knows about jousting in order to do well in the upcoming Charm School (for Princes-in-training) tournament. But when Val starts running his mouth about how girls can't joust, Rapunzel's off to prove him wrong. But how can she skip so much school without getting caught? How will she find a helmet for all that hair? And what if she wins? Will the Princes be OK with losing to a Princess?

Apple-y Ever After is probably the darkest and most action-packed of the series. Snow's father has come back from being lost at sea, but has no idea who Snow is. In this book, I really enjoyed the main plot. Snow and her friends are trying everything to make him remember, and Maldora (her evil step-mother)is doing everything possible to make sure he doesn't. Snow also is very conflicted-- she loves her father and wants to live with him back in their castle, but can she really leave the dwarfs behind? A bitter-sweet, yet perfect ending.

Thorn In Her Side is the most recent book to come out. The school is doing a play with a touring theatre group! Rose wants to be the bad guy, but ends up playing the perfect Princess (surprise, surprise). She's really intrigued by the fairy that is playing the bad guy and wants to know him better and learn acting skills from him, but he won't talk to her. Rose's past is coming to haunt her and she's going to have to pay for the mistakes made by her parents. This book is actually pretty funny with all of the usual school-play hijinks. Also, Ella's stepsisters make themselves really obnoxious and awful, much to the amusement of all.

So, you don't have to read this series in order, but previous events (and how they ended) are mentioned in the later books.

Also, my favorite plot twist is when Ella's dad reveals the truth about her step-mother, but I can't remember which book that is...

My one question is that there's a teaser ad for a book called Slippery Steps in the back of Thorn in her Side that was supposed to come out in December and Amazon was advertising it for awhile, and now the book seems to have disappeared. What happened?


Anonymous said...

I would really like for slippery steps to come out I've been waiting and waiting.

Anonymous said...

My daughter, wife, and I are ALL eagerly awaiting Slippery Steps. I emailed Scholastic and got a quick response saying that they (the friendly customer service person representing the publishing behemoth) have no information about the release of the title.

It is a wonderful series. The characters themselves and their interactions with each other are rich and true to experience. That was the first thing our daughter commented on, and I think is the foundation of her love for the books. On top of that, the writing is lively and witty. Elements that we know from the fairy tales are seamlessly incorporated throughout to great effect. The connections are often humorous, and they have several powerful effects that are magical in combination: the humor often feels gently ironic, you feel like the authors are having a blast and that you are sharing the fun with them, and - here's the magic - you feel even more intimately connected with these richly drawn characters because you have in fact known them for a very long time from their fairytales.

What has been really fun is that this is one of the first series that our daughter (now seven) discovered for herself, and she has plowed through them on her own. She introduced them to my wife and me, and we're hooked too! So as the books have been checked out from the library, they've circulate around the three of us before going back.

Anonymous said...

I am TOTALLY in love with those books!!! I think they are so good! I'm not really sure about when Slippery Steps is coming out, but I will be waiting for it in December! Please keep me updated if you see it somewhere!!!