So, here’s my confession, I love princess stories. I do, I can’t help it. And, my favorite princess books are all written by Gail Carson Levine. She is a master of creating new stories from ageless tales. If you are just going to dabble in princess stories, read one of Gail Carson Levine’s books such as Fairest, Ella Enchanted or the Sisters of Bamarre. However, if you want to limit yourself to just a short story here or there, The Fairy’s Return and other Princess Tales is perfect. These tales are delightful twists on ageless stories that will have you rethinking the traditional princess paradigm.
All of the stories take place around Snettering-on-Snoakes and the Kingdom of Biddle. The books starts out with “The Fairy’s Mistake,” a play on the traditional tale of one nice sister being given a blessing by a secretly magic old lady, while the evil mean sister is given a curse. In this story, the nice sister is given the ‘blessing’ of jewels spewing forth from her mouth whenever she speaks. Meanwhile, the mean sister is given the ‘curse’ of disgusting things like lizards, snakes and wasps jumping out of her mouth whenever she speaks. The beautiful and kind sister is, of course, immediately swept up and married by a handsome prince who just happens to be riding by. I mean, really, what self-respecting prince would not want to marry a girl who literally drips jewels every time she murmurs a word? The sweet sister is then instantly doomed to a life where she is pushed, prodded, and pulled in all directions. Her feelings are the last thing on anyone’s mind. On the other hand, the mean sister suddenly manages to get everyone to do her bidding. At the smallest hint of her speaking, people dash to meet her every whim. For, the second she opens her mouth, something horrible will come out. This was not what the fairy had in mind, but isn’t it funny how things sometimes turn out differently than we expect them to. Fear not, like all good princess stories, this has a happy ending. But, not before it makes all of us think a little about the meaning of blessings.
All of the short stories in this book are equally thought provoking and entertaining. While the stories are about a 5th grade reading level, the nature of the stories will appeal to all ages. It is a great book for reading aloud because the stories are fun and also provide great ideas for conversations about life.
If you too are a victim of the princess bug, I also recommend these other titles for middle schoolers: Princess Academy, Goose Girl, Rapunzel’s Revenge (graphic novel), as well as all of the books in The Royal Diaries series.
– Jessica Wheeler