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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Wish for a Nicer Sequel
I tend to cringe when I see someone has written a "sequel" of a classic, but this time I didn't: I was pretty hopeful about Hilary McKay writing a sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess. Why? Because I'm crazy about McKay's Casson family books and figured that if anyone could do A Little Princess justice, she could. Happily--oh, so happily--hope was...
Published on January 16, 2010 by Kate Coombs

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wishing for Yesterday before I read this book
WISHING FOR TOMORROW follows the lives of the the girls, Ermengarde, Lavinia and Lottie, that Sara Crew left behind when she came into her fortune at the end of "A Little Princess".

Why I picked it up: I named my middle daughter after Sara Crewe of A LITTLE PRINCESS. My copy has been read to bits. I tracked down Burnett's adult novels in second hand...
Published on February 24, 2010 by Travis Ann Sherman


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wishing for Yesterday before I read this book, February 24, 2010
By 
Travis Ann Sherman (St. Petersburg, Fl United States) - See all my reviews
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WISHING FOR TOMORROW follows the lives of the the girls, Ermengarde, Lavinia and Lottie, that Sara Crew left behind when she came into her fortune at the end of "A Little Princess".

Why I picked it up: I named my middle daughter after Sara Crewe of A LITTLE PRINCESS. My copy has been read to bits. I tracked down Burnett's adult novels in second hand bookstores and read them too. It was with high expectations that I opened this book.

Why I finished it: Grimly, I followed the book to the end. WISHING FOR TOMORROW is indeed a 'sweet and wistful' book, as Joanne Harris describes it. But I loved A LITTLE PRINCESS because of its harsh ugliness, missing form McKay's modern treatment. For example, Becky the scullery maid has gone to be Sara's companion, and Alice is hired in her place. But Alice has the gumption that Becky lacked, cheeks the Miss Minchins on a daily basis and is never, ever scolded by the cook. Out the window goes the cruel truth that life, and the life of young working class girls, was worth almost nothing in turn of the century London. A LITTLE PRINCESS was a cold book; you could feel the damp chill on your bones as you suffered with poor Sara shivering under the thin covers of her narrow attic bed. The strength of A LITTLE PRINCESS was its simple plot: Sara goes from riches to rags and back to riches, all the time remaining a strong and good person. Sara Crewe was a heroine, a little princess because she behaved generously to others in the worst of circumstances, when she was starving and poor, as well as when a carriage was at her disposal.

Ermengarde could have been a heroine too, but she faces no harsh difficulties. The dragon Miss Minchin is having a nervous breakdown; Miss Amelia is entertaining a crush on the vicar; Lavinia is amusing rather than vicious; and Lottie is comic relief. Ermengarde just suffers from angst, flakiness and bad eyesight.

Sweet. Cotton candy, melting away. An aunt appears deus ex machina. A surprise ending jumps out at us. A LITTLE PRINCESS had real bones in it a child could gnaw on. I judge this book harshly. Its author has chosen to write a sequel to a classic, using the fame of A LITTLE PRINCESS to structure her book and sell it as well. It's not enough for her to manufacture a happy little tale. I might have been happier if there were zombies or time travel or some other kind of nonsense in it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Wish for a Nicer Sequel, January 16, 2010
By 
Kate Coombs (Utah, United States) - See all my reviews
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I tend to cringe when I see someone has written a "sequel" of a classic, but this time I didn't: I was pretty hopeful about Hilary McKay writing a sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess. Why? Because I'm crazy about McKay's Casson family books and figured that if anyone could do A Little Princess justice, she could. Happily--oh, so happily--hope was absolutely the right emotion for this book, which I read yesterday and then put down with a thoroughly blissful sigh. What a lovely book it is, imbued, not only with humor, but with subtle touches of tenderness.

Have you ever found yourself wondering what happens to the secondary characters after the end of a book? Hilary McKay proceeds to answer that question, mostly from the point of view of Ermengarde, her new heroine. Lumpish, awkward, insecure Ermengarde slowly comes into her own in this book, becoming a lot less lumpish without losing her essential Ermengarde-ness. One interesting story arc is Ermengarde's mixed feelings about Sara leaving her behind. We also learn that Lavinia has a secret and Miss Minchin is being haunted by her own feelings about Sara Crewe, while Lottie makes friends with the cat next door and blithely causes trouble. (McKay's Lottie owes a nod to her marvelous Rose from the Casson books. And perhaps to the irrepressible Posie of Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes.)

Burnett's characters are rich and their encounters sometimes amusing, yet very few people writing today can show off the quirky thinking of children better than Hilary McKay. For example, when Jessica loans Ermengarde her silk dress to wear to see a performance of Peter Pan with her aunt, she warns Ermengarde not to cry because salt water will stain the silk:

"'...but you've got to promise that while you're wearing it you won't cry a single drip!'
'Are there sad bits in Peter Pan?'
'Yes.'
Ermengarde groaned.
'Very sad bits, actually! But you can't cry in them because if you do, you've got to take off your dress--my dress, don't forget! Take off my dress...'
'In the middle of the Duke of York's Theatre?'
'Yes! And watch the rest of the play in your petticoats!'"

The book further offers episodes such as Lottie's antics in church and the deviously hilarious way Lavinia arranges to take "piano lessons" in the house next door. And we are given insight into some of the events that took place while Sara was still at Miss Minchin's.

Hilary McKay is less inclined to believe in Magic than her predecessor, but like Burnett, she finds a kind of magic in people. In addition to developing existing secondary characters such as Ermengarde, Lottie, and Lavinia, the author adds a new and bolder housemaid named Alice and a scholarly gentleman next door whose nephew, Tristram, appears to be a match for the girls at Miss Minchin's. Even the vicar gets a bigger role.

The book ends with a highly dramatic turn, but it seems fitting in the romanticized Victorian setting, and the final pages bring further satisfaction. We do get to see Sara again, in case you were wondering.

After reading Wishing for Tomorrow, I think you'll feel, as I did, that you know and love Sara and her friends from A Little Princess more than ever. Enriching the original while creating a new world in the setting of Miss Minchin's, Hilary McKay has taken the risky, even brazen idea of a sequel to classic literature and written the proverbial tour de force.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Adversity. No Character Development. No Real Story., March 2, 2010
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This book utterly lacks the Dickensian elements that made the original worth reading over and over. It also lacks the grammatical precision that made each line of A Little Princess a lovely thing unto itself. A Little Princess was my first chapter book, and, perhaps, for that reason, I am approaching this book with unfairly high standards.

However, if the author is going to call the book a sequel to the now public domain masterpiece, practically a rite of passage for girls as they learn to read, I believe she owes it to the readers to maintain both the original tone and the high stylistic standards of the book on which she is trying to capitalize.

The author fails on both counts. Additionally, her book falls into the pit of so many modern sequels: the trap of too, too much exposition in the first chapters. If you've got a story worthy of a new book, get on with it. Don't spend a dozen pages or more on a recap. The book either stands on its own or doesn't. This one might have, had it remained true to the tone, and not just the setting, of the original.

That said, I do think she did a reasonably good job with most of the characterizations. I love her takes on Lottie and Ermengarde, though I believe the softening of Lavinia does a bit of violence to the original story. The author clearly lacks the will to write excellent villains.

I was excited about reading this book, but I was disappointed within the first few paragraphs. The disappointment continued throughout the book, even after the interminable exposition mostly ended. It's a gentle book, and even when the action ramps up a bit, there's not a lot of drama or suspense or moral judgment.

I don't think I would recommend it to most of the young girls in my life. Maybe if one actually expressed a strong interest in what happened to Ermengarde or Lottie. Or if I really needed help explaining how some people just really aren't as awful as you might think.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Books Don't Need Sequels, March 16, 2010
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As a small child, I remember reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's "A Little Princess" for the first time when I was in the first grade. I was taken away by the magic that surrounded Sara Crewe and I was able to envision myself living at Miss Minchin's with Sara, Lavinia, Ermengarde and Lottie. I never saw myself as Sara, but rather as yet another girl, being ignored but surrounded by Sara's magic.

When I saw that a sequel was available for my favorite childhood book, I was skeptical. Sequels are rarely as good as the original, although the Toy Story 2 film is a rare exception. Plus this sequel was written decades later by a different author. Unfortunately, my skepticism was right on the money.

Sara is mostly absent in this sequel. There's no real adversity to be overcome, just the regular problems of everyday life for girls in Victorian England. While the minor characters from the original are more fleshed out and we learn more about their lives, those lives don't always ring true and they just aren't as interesting as the original story of Sara, magic, having it all, losing it all, and then gaining most of it back again. I cared about the characters in the original book while I just wasn't interested in them in the sequel.

While the book was a quick read, and not horrible, it by no means measures up to the original. I still haven't decided if this one can stand alone on its own merits or whether you need to have read the book upon which it is based in order to understand the characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Goldy One, May 13, 2010
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I read A Little Princess at least 30 times as a child. As an adult, I bought the book in hardcover and I still re-read it. Sara Crewe's charm, imagination and plight make her one of the most sustaining and beloved character in the canon of children's literature. I loved Sara's take on Robespierre and the French Revolution. These references broadened my perspective when I was a girl and gave me permission to read big fat books about European history. I loved her imagination and her backstory about growing up in India. The concept of the diamond mines were fabulous, but wait, what book was I reviewing?

I was happy to read the sequel to my beloved book. I was hoping to read historical and domestic life detail about London, I wanted to learn about Sara's new life and the Large Family. This book came as a surprise focusing on elements that were not as interesting to me. Ermengarde, Lottie, Lavinia, Miss Minchin and life at the Select Seminary. Okay, I can tolerate that. Then the author began to lift passages from A Little Princess and use it as exposition in the book. That was immediately noticeable since I'm such a huge fan, I don't expect little girls today read A Little Princess thirty times, they probably read it once, and then got this one. So I suppose that is okay too.

Wishing for Tomorrow has a pro-female, pro-student perspective. Turns out Lavinia is a brain. Turns out Ermengarde is prettier than she thought. Miss Minchin has a tragic backstory of longing for education but being denied it by her family. Miss Alice, the new maid is a delightful trove of domestic arts from 19th century London.

This was not a terrible book, it was not as good as a Little Princess but it's message of female empowerment, friendship and achievement were sweet. I thought it was creative the way Hillary McKay chose to present Lavinia's bond with Miss Minchin as loving and supportive. Lavinia experiences Miss Minchin as a mother surrogate and thrives. This book offers a redemption of Miss Minchin that I found interesting. I can't say I loved it, or liked it personally but it was definitely more than an okay book. If I were nine and read this book, I bet I would love it. I know these reviews are all over the place, but considering the intended audience of this book, young girls, it's a good book with a good message. Give it a chance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Completely True to Original, but Still a Good Book, March 11, 2010
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Frances Hodgson Burnett herself declared that, "Between the lines of every story there is another story, and that is one that is never heard and can only be guessed at by the people who are good at guessing."

So as Sara heads into her "happily ever after" life, readers of _A Little Princess_ may wonder what happens to her friends and if the Magic might leave with Sara.

_A Little Princess_ is one of my favorite childhood books, and for anyone who has read it, the Magic in the book has probably stuck with you, even if you read it years ago. As a beloved classic children's book author, Frances Hodgson Burnett's shoes are tough ones to fill. Part of the problem in creating a sequel is in staying true to the original author's intentions. Unfortunately, I don't think McKay has in mind the same future that Burnett did. At the end of the original book, Sara is set to live next door to her friends, her guardian begins experiencing a miraculous recovery (back then, diseases were little understood, and Sara's appearance cures him), and plans are put in place for her to use her wealth to improve the city she lives in and help the poor. McKay, however, has Sara move far away from all of her friends. Part of Sara's appeal in _A Little Princess_ is her love for people who are unlovable, from the boring dunce Ermengarde (who becomes her best friend) to bratty Lottie (who she "adopts"). But McKay makes them, and even school bully Lavinia, interesting and more likeable characters. Ermengarde especially here is not the Ermengarde in _A Little Princess_. She is more intelligent, a letter writer, and seems to mostly just lack confidence in herself. Even the teachers are characters here, with insight into their family dynamic and why they behave the way they do.

Sara is virtually absent and doesn't seem to remember things she knew in the original book. For example, here she writes Ermengarde to ask if she has read a book she gave her--but in _A Little Princess_, Sara understands that Ermengarde doesn't read, so she reads books and then tells Ermengarde all about them. A related deviation is that in _Wishing for Tomorrow_, Sarah is mentioned many times as having previously read to other children, when instead she was a storyteller who created her own stories or added on to old ones. Sara even cries in this book, and while she did in the original, it was a highly unusual thing for her to do, and for something more major than what occurs in this one.

There are also modern mentalities that seem to sneak into books written today that were foreign when _A Little Princess_ was written; for example, why is Becky (the former maid of the boarding school) now a maid for Sara--couldn't she have another job? And school bully Lavinia declares that marriage is a trap. These are not the types of things Burnett would have included in _A Little Princess_. When it was written, Becky's new job as a maid for Sara was a major move up in life and a chance to remain with her friend. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect is that the Magic is gone from this book; Burnett was so good at creating plots that mixed fairyland with realism in a believable way. I think this is why her books' plots stick with so many girls.

There are some aspects fans of the original book will appreciate, though, including that Melchisedec is still around and Lottie is perhaps even more of a handful here! Lavinia is still delightfully wicked, and Sara is present a bit, mostly in epistolary form.

Would I call this _the_ sequel to _A Little Princess_? No. It's "a" sequel--and only McKay's opinion of what might happen to the characters in the original story. I prefer the ending that Burnett chose in the original novel. However, as a stand-alone book, trying not to be such a stickler for staying true to the original, it's an enjoyable read about a few delightful characters. Just don't expect them to be quite the same as the ones you knew before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as charming as the original book, February 1, 2010
By 
KidsReads (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
Frances Hodgson Burnett's A LITTLE PRINCESS was published in 1905 after two previous incarnations as a play and a shorter book. It has remained a children's classic for over 100 years and has been adapted into various plays and movies since. A LITTLE PRINCESS is about Sara Crewe, a privileged child at a boarding school. But after her father dies and his fortune vanishes, she becomes a poorly treated servant in the same school until a mysterious benefactor discovers her true identity and restores her to her life of ease.

Essential to the story is Sara imagining --- both as a person of privilege and as a person in poverty --- that she is a princess. This fantasy provides her not only with the strength to endure during difficult times, but it also gives her a code of behavior. Protector of the weak and small, Sara learns that even servants with little to call their own can provide assistance to people in need. The dignity and courage her imagination gives her sees her through her trials and draws the attention of a mysterious benefactor who can sense her noble spirit even when she is dressed in rags. Ultimately, Sara's riches are restored to her, but when A LITTLE PRINCESS ends, readers are left to wonder what happens to the friends --- and the enemies --- who Sara leaves behind.

Award-winning author Hilary McKay has often wondered about the girls left in Miss Minchin's school. She has written WISHING FOR TOMORROW to tell us what happened to snobbish Lavinia, loyal Ermengarde and mischievous Lotte. The result is nearly as charming as the original book. McKay --- who demonstrates a deft psychological insight in all her books --- also uncovers reasons for some of the more villainous characters' behavior. Lavinia, we learn, is not just mean and jealous but hungry for intellectual life beyond the confines of finishing school. This is a life Miss Minchin once yearned for herself before necessity and convention determined her role as mistress of the same.

However, WISHING FOR TOMORROW is carried by Ermengarde, whose loyalty in A LITTLE PRINCESS is rewarded with little more than a supporting role housed in a character described as both fat and dim. WISHING FOR TOMORROW addresses this gross injustice by revealing Ermengarde as someone who has a gift of seeing to the heart of things. Where Sara's gift is for imaginings, Ermengarde's is for truth. After she gets eyeglasses (which address her troubled learning), Ermengarde discovers she has a knack for writing, and much of the novel is told in her engaging letters to Sara about life at Miss Minchin's and the girls who still live there.

McKay captures the lush descriptive style of Burnett's original along with the deft dialogue that reveals each of the characters. Going back to read A LITTLE PRINCESS, I was surprised to see how much McKay's work deepened the characters and conflicts in the original book. WISHING FOR TOMORROW also reveals some of the weaknesses in Burnett's book and provides answers for questions like why Sara didn't share the news of her impending good fortune with her schoolroom friends, especially after "the Magic" starts to transform her attic bedroom and her personal appearance.

Filled with adventures and intrigue as the girls deal with their losses and stretch towards the freedom they never imagined before Sara led the way, WISHING FOR TOMORROW is not only a charming sequel but also a lovely book in its own right. Best for readers who are already familiar with the original, McKay adds a few new characters, including Sara's replacement, Alice. Even though she is a servant, Alice is a no-nonsense country girl who resists Miss Minchin's bullying and fills the school with a pragmatic can-do spirit, much like Martha the Yorkshire maid in Burnett's other beloved classic, THE SECRET GARDEN.

McKay resolves WISHING FOR TOMORROW --- and A LITTLE PRINCESS --- by providing a bright future for each of the characters, even Lavinia and Miss Minchin. By providing a chance for each character to follow the dictates of her own heart, McKay suggests that Sara's code of behavior --- the wisdom, kindness and generosity of a princess --- is best realized when people are given the opportunities to explore not just their goodness but also what they are good for in this world.

--- Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing Sequel, January 23, 2010
I loved reading "A Little Princess" as a child and still re-read it occasionally as an adult. I found out about this sequel when it was reviewed in "The Wall Street Journal" and I was excited to read the new book, yet a little afraid. Would it really be a worthy expansion upon the original story? Would it match Burnett's tone? I read the original book again right before reading the sequel and decided to find out.

I am sad to say that this book fails on both accounts. The first few chapters were a quick rehash of what happened in the first book. With "A Little Princess" being the classic that it is, I am sure the reader will be very familiar with the story and even though the events are told in the second book from Ermengarde's view, it just comes off as being redundant. McKay also makes a point to mention that Ermengarde and Lavinia knew about the magic that happened in the attic because they went up there when Sara was not around. I was immediately put off by this because while McKay may be writing a sequel, she shouldn't be altering the original source material!

The plot of the sequel finally starts to happen when the Sara and the Indian Gentleman move out of their house. McKay then tries to advance the story by fleshing out the characters of Sara's schoolmates. Lavinia isn't the mean bossy girl that we thought. She has a sudden quest for knowledge and starts a vigorous study regime. Lottie is a mischievous trouble maker without Sara around to take care of her. Ermengarde pines for Sara, yet doesn't mail any of the replies she writes to Sara's letter.

New occupants move in to the Indian Gentleman's house but they are not really fleshed out. There is a weak plot line with Lavinia wanting to take piano lessons with the man that lives there and some of the girls having a mild crush on the boy that lives there. The cat that lives with them is more of a developed character than they are. A new scullery maid is hired for the Select Seminary but actually stands up for herself and refuses to sleep in the attic. If only it had been that easy for Becky and Sara! Miss Amelia pines for the Vicar of the nearby church and Miss Minchin is going crazy with drink and feels haunted by Sara.

Both the Minchin sisters are also given a little bit of a backstory so the reader will give them some sympathy. Having seen Miss Minchin as the villain she was in the first book, no amount of backstory was going to make me give this woman any sympathy! Sara may have been a dignified Princess when it came to confronting her but I really wanted Miss Minchin to pay for her evil deeds!

Sara is barely in the book (She's away at the seaside and then preparing to go back to India) and even though she writes a letter to Ermengarde about Becky getting married, we as readers don't get the satisfaction of seeing it after having been with the scullery maid during all her tribulations in the first book. Ermengarde herself almost misses seeing Sara because she is stuck in a plot that involves her visiting her lonely aunt (the one who sent the feast hamper in the first book).

I thought the way things were resolved in the book were clichéd and disappointing. (Spoiler Alert!) Lottie accidentally starts a fire that burns down the Seminary. Miss Amelia gets saved by the Vicar and marries him. Most of the girls (and Melchisedec the rat) then go and live with Ermengarde's aunt except for Lottie and Lavinia who go and live with...Miss Minchin!

The tone in the book is nothing like Burnett. As a child I liked that Burnett told a good story and wasn't afraid to use big words but the text in this sequel seems too simplistic. Having grown up with the Tasha Tudor illustrations, I was also disappointed with the way this book was illustrated. The pictures were overly simplistic and didn't create a vivid look for the characters like Tudor's pictures did.

Maybe I wouldn't have disliked this book so much if it wasn't called "A sequel". If it had been marketed as "The Further Adventures of the Girls from `A Little Princess'" I may have been more receptive to it. Instead of "Wishing for Tomorrow" I am "Wishing to Read Only the Original Book"!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book for girls, May 24, 2010
This review is from: Wishing for Tomorrow (Audio CD)
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The long awaited sequel to "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett, "Wishing for Tomorrow" tells the story of Ermengarde, Lavinia, Lottie, Jessica, and Gertrude after Sara Crewe leaves Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies. Sara's sudden good fortune has an impact on most of the young ladies at Miss Minchin's and Miss Minchin.

While Ermengarde struggles to deal with the loss of her best friend, Lavinia is once again the leader of the girls and eager to find ways to improve her life. The new red-headed boy from the house next door seems to be into as much mischief as young Lottie, and they welcome a new maid named Alice, whose sharp tongue and constant threat to leave and return home to Epping, adds many memorable moments to the story.

I have not read "A Little Princess", but I am eager to own it. McKay has brought to life for me a cast of young ladies with their unique and quirky guardians, who I am curious to know more about. I don't know how closely she followed the original, though she mentions reading "A Little Princess" over and again as a child, so I'm hoping she stayed true to what Burnett created.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take it or Leave it, February 27, 2010
This review is from: Wishing for Tomorrow (Audio CD)
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This is one of those books where you end up kind of wondering if it was really worth the 5.5 hours you spent listening to it...Th book picks up before the end of "The Little Princess" and continues on after Sara leaves, however much like a plant without water this book has a hard time keeping up the same feel as "The Little Princess". When you read "The Little Princess" you felt like you were in the house with the girls, you felt for them, cried when they cried, screamed out at their injustices, rejoiced at their triumphs. This book just lacks this "umph", and at times I ended up wondering why I should care since the character did not seem to...(This might be partially the fault of the narrator, whose voice seems to almost never change- or at least, not much. (Except when she does Becky's voice.)) The tone of this book is completely different from "The Little Princess", and if you removed the first couple of chapters Sara would not be in it at all. However, it is an interesting take on what happened to the rest of the girls after Sara leaves, and it does give a nice, Happy, pat ending.
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Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess
Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay (Paperback - March 22, 2011)
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