Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom

Seven Seas. Nov. 2023. 292p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9798888433072. .
Gr 8 Up–Two neighboring kingdoms finally go to war with one another when they can’t stop bickering over the most immaterial of issues. A mediating god decrees that one kingdom shall send their fairest maiden to the other kingdom to wed their brightest young man in an attempt to improve relations. This leads one kingdom’s overlooked princess Sarah to meet Naranbayar, the son of the head librarian in the opposite kingdom. Though the two are from completely different walks of life, they soon discover that not only do they need one another, but the survival of both kingdoms depends on them as well. The title’s unique art style is one of the first things that will jump out to readers, breaking away from shoujo art hallmarks for characters with cheerier features and facial expressions. Panel backgrounds of the respective kingdoms and their surrounding woodlands are also excellent. As a standalone title, it can be hard to get too deeply attached to the characters as it shifts between multiple points of view often. However, both lead characters are very amiable individuals who are not self-centered and legitimately care about the big picture issues that are happening throughout the narrative. Plenty of important lessons to impart on young readers can be found throughout, such as how beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and that accepting the differences of others is the key to creating a more empathetic world. A strong read across the board!
VERDICT A solid shoujo selection that both entertains and enlightens all at once.

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