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The Ordinary Princess Paperback – March 18, 2002
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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"This delightful fairy tale is sure to please young romantics . . . Neither Kaye's princess nor her book should be considered ordinary." (School Library Journal)
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: 3/18/2002
- Pages: 128
- Reading Level: Age 8 and Up
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In the kingdom of Phantasmorania, the locals are wont to celebrate their king and queen's beautiful six daughters. When the seventh princess, Amethyst, was born, there was much talk concerning her upcoming christening, the bone of contention being should the fairies of the land be invited to the festivity? But the king's cautionary words fall on deaf ears, and so the invitations are sent out. The fairies arrive with their magical blessings, with the most powerful fairy of them all, the Fairy Crustacea, stepping in last. She gazes at the Princess Amethyst and proclaims, "You shall be Ordinary!" Whoops.
As the years went on Princess Amethyst - or "Amy," as everyone comes to call her - has lived up to the Fairy Crustacea's "gift." Freckled-faced and mousy haired and with an upturned nose - the consternation of the royal household - Amy certainly embodies ordinariness and looks so unlike a princess that when the time comes, no prince wants to marry her. When her father the king puts into motion a tricky plot to get her married, Amy runs away and eventually finds herself in the neighboring kingdom.
It says something about M.M. Kaye's writing that even though The Ordinary Princess frolics in the woods, plays with woodland creatures, and even occasionally bursts into songs, there's still this streak of welcome unsentimentality. This book doesn't read as overly saccharine. It helps that Amy is such an appealing down-to-earth character. Her looks may be common but she's also smart and sunny-natured and not at all spoiled. She only visits the castle in the neighboring kingdom because her time in the woods had rendered her clothes all tattered. Amy aims to land a job, earn just enough to purchase new clothes and flee back into the woods. She quickly becomes the fourteenth assistant kitchen's maid at the castle and there runs into a young man labeling himself a man-of-all-work. They share an ice cream.
No wicked witches or ogres or monsters or epic quests. There could've been a dragon-slaying but that gets nipped in the bud. THE ORDINARY PRINCESS is a sweet and gentle fairy tale, written so that readers of whatever age can savor it. That this story is three decades old doesn't at all take away from its freshness and charm, and that lesson about being yourself doesn't ever get old. There's also a sweet love story here, and, instead of the "love at first sight" trope, the romance grows out of friendship and learning about each other over time. If this were to be adapted into an animated film I would hope that it's Hayao Miyazaki who gets his hands on it. This is right up his alley.
M.M. Kaye also illustrates the thing and, like everything else about this book, her etchings are pitch perfect. Every little girl should read this sensible fairy tale. Heck, everybody should read this fairy tale.
My daughter is six, and she loves this story. It is a chapter book, with few pictures, so if your six-year-old isn't able to sit still and imagine her own pictures, you may want to look elsewhere. My daughter loves it: she sings the verse over to herself throughout the day, and talks about herself as being the Ordinary Princess. Yesterday she said she needed to learn to cook, even though she was a Princess and her (pretend) mother didn't think it was important for princesses to cook, because the Ordinary Princess found her cooking skills really handy!
Beautiful. Thank you, Ms. Kaye.