Thursday, September 18, 2014

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Cover image for A true princessLilia's foster mother is expecting a baby, and Lilia overhears her plan to apprentice Lilia out to a cruel neighbor to make room for the little one.  Lilia decides to escape and is surprised with when her foster brother and sister, Kai and Karina, decide to join her in running away.  The three of them decide to travel together toward the palace of the king to try to find work, but to get there they have to pass through the Bitra Forest, the realm of the Elf King.  They are, of course, captured by the Elf King and the king's daughter claims Kai as her eternal playmate.  To free Kai from the princess, the two girls must find an enchanted broach and give it to the elf princess in exchange for their friend.  The girls come to the palace, and discover that the Queen is searching for a true princess for her son to marry. As the girls work as maids in the castle, and the time limit for finding the broach is running out, they wonder if the whereabouts of the jewel is connected to the strange sleeping chamber where the prospective princesses are taken. This story is an interesting blend of several northern European folk/fairy tales.  Zahler does a good job of combining the stories to make a new seamless tale. The main characters are interesting and likeable, if not terribly deep, and the resolution, if a little too tidy, is at least satisfying. This is a great story for a 3rd or 4th, or even a confident 2nd grade reader girl who likes fairy tales, and is not too worried about plausibility.  (180 p)

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