Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror

Norton. May 2020. 224p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781324015567.
Gr 4-7–“What makes a princess excellent?” an enchantress ponders when she is asked to be godmother to a royal princess. When her enchanted mirror cannot give her a satisfactory answer, she shrinks it down to compact size. She then sends it out into the world to be her eyes and ears as it observes princesses across lands and centuries, in order to decide on the right gift for the newborn. As the mirror travels, it is lost, found, and both treasured and ignored for many years by eight different princesses. There is Heloise, who uses the magic in the mirror to become a great healer and save her dear sister’s life; Laila, who bravely saves her father’s kingdom from an enemy’s attack; and Saoirse, who discovers her true talent is collecting stories for future generations. Each princess possesses inner strength and tenacity, refuting the notion that princesses must be merely fair and obedient. There are through lines connecting each tale, and when the mirror finally returns to the enchantress, it relates all that it has seen. It informs the enchantress that it is not through titles or being gifted by others that true princesses emerge; it is integrity, dedication, and self-awareness. Even readers who eschew fairy tales will find adventure and sweet surprise in these tales of royals who rebel against the stereotypes of their position. Prominent throughout the stories are Corry’s whimsical color illustrations. The fanciful drawings bring characters and landscape to life, and they are a delightful accent to the tales.
VERDICT Readers will find these stories of brave, determined young ladies inspirational as well as engaging.

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