Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers
An adorable story about a princess who does not exactly fit the standards for princesses everywhere. Grace is the eldest daughter of the king of a tiny kingdom somewhere in the mountains where yaks (and their milk) are bountiful. When her father hears that her obnoxious cousin Precious is going to a finishing school for princesses, he sends her there as well. Without a wife to advise him (Grace’s mother died when she was five) he is completely clueless about what girls need so Grace arrives on the dock where the other princesses are waiting without papers, without being enrolled first, without anything.
Precious is…well, what do you think a princess named Precious would be like? Yep, if not worse. Grace is as far from graceful as you can get. She’s tall, gangly, and clumsy. However, she has a good heart and is among people who realize her true worth. She quickly makes friends with Izumi and Scarlet, both princesses from far away lands. The fresh batch of princesses start their school life at Tall Towers by learning things like deportment (which Grace is deplorable at) and Unic0rn-riding (which Grace might be good at if only she’s allowed to ride normally and not side-saddle).
Then the principal announces the upcoming annual parade (and jousting) where one of the princesses will be allowed to be the golden princess and hand the golden trophy over to the winner of the jousting competition. Things proceed in surprising ways after that and Grace finds that being a princess is really up to the person inside no matter what the person outside may look like. In other words, grace is more than the way a person moves.
This, as I said, is a rather adorable book about friendship and family, about knowing yourself and about being proud of who you are no matter how others may evaluate you. I can see MGers loving this for many reasons, the most important of which is that it subverts the idea that princesses must meet a certain standard or act with some kind of asinine decorum that precludes fun activities such as jousting. Why can’t a princess joust?
I enjoyed this and I think many modern young girls (and boys!) will find they do too.