Princess Ugg

illus. by Warren Wucinich & Ted Naifeh. 120p. (Princess Ugg: Vol. 1). ebook available. Oni. 2014. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781620101780.
Gr 8 Up—This graphic novel is as difficult to categorize as the fashion footwear bearing the same name. Princess Ulga, unflatteringly nicknamed Ugg, is depicted as a young woman who does not fit the conventional mold of beauty or intelligence, but who is beautiful, intelligent, and determined to succeed in her quest to learn about the peace of the lowlanders. She is capable of fighting and beheading trolls and ogres, but it is the challenge of making friends with mean girls that nearly undoes her. There are multiple paradoxes in the story. Princess Ulga, when placed next to the other princesses, appears squat and heavily muscled yet she retains the wasp waist and hourglass curves that continue to be culturally revered as attractive. Her manners are course and rough, and she is illiterate, but she has a sense of tenacity that is prized in American culture. Naifeh, Ulga's creator, imbues the tale with a little cultural diversity in his inclusion of mean girl princesses who have Asian and African features, though Ulga's nemesis is the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Princess Julifer with whom she is forced to room. A bloodless beheading and a shower scene with implied nudity render this a title that should be added to lower grades with caution.
VERDICT There are several competing ideas within the story, but the one that seems to hold pride of place is the message that to assign value or worth based on outward appearance is to miss out on the greater value of the person or thing.

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