Monday, June 1, 2015

MMGM: The Ordinary Princess

I’ve been reading a lot of old-fashioned books lately. I think it’s my latest craze. So, even though, THE ORDINARY PRINCESS, is not a new book, I had to feature it. I love a good fairy-tale, and this one has a tone that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Imagine ENCHANTED (the movie) as a book, but with a dash more wit.

What I loved, too, was that the author, M.M. Kaye, was inspired to write this after realizing that the heroines of most fairy tales did not look like her and were too perfect. With that background alone, I’m in.

Here is the synopsis (from Amazon):

Along with Wit, Charm, Health, and Courage, Princess Amy of Phantasmorania receives a special fairy christening gift: Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown hair and freckles, and would rather have adventures than play the harp, embroider tapestries . . . or become a Queen. When her royal parents try to marry her off, Amy runs away and, because she's so ordinary, easily becomes the fourteenth assistant kitchen maid at a neighboring palace. And there . . . much to everyone's surprise . . . she meets a prince just as ordinary (and special) as she is!

What I loved:

1.      An interesting “bad” fairy. Crustacea is interesting enough with her seashell hat and seaweed robe. But it gets even better when, miffed by being stuck in traffic on the way to Amy’s christening,  she curses the baby princess with being ordinary. Of course, the curse is really a gift.

2.      A celebration of ordinary. From Amy crying like a real baby to her experiences with true friendship and work (both things princes and princesses usually miss out on)—being ordinary has a lot of benefits. I think most kids (and adults) will relate to this.

3.      Humor. The best fairy tales, like Gail Carson Levine’s work, have a splash of humor. The Ordinary Princess has it in spades. I loved that it made fun of the genre and didn’t take itself too seriously—all points in my book.

4.      Art by the author. Make sure you get the original copy of the book, so you can enjoy the extraordinary illustrations of this author/illustrator. (The cover here is from the original edition.)

5.      A light read with substance. Although I read this very short book in a few hours, it is not complete fluff. I loved what it said about beauty and the hidden benefits of being the kind of person most people overlook.

My favorite quote: “...for though she was ordinary, she possessed health, wit, courage, charm, and cheerfulness. But because she was not beautiful, no one ever seemed to notice these other qualities, which is so often the way of the world.”

This would appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Laura Amy Schlitz, and Anna Staniszewski. I read it recently while I was at the beach—it’s a perfect light read for summer!

Have you read any enchanting fantasies lately?

If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book! I would never think a princess would ever be ordinary, so I'm gonna have to keep an eye out for this one! Thanks for the review! :-)


  2. I tend to avoid princess stories but always have several friends and young relatives to recommend stories like this with a princess as the protagonist. The cover alone would have them running to the library. They would of course also read your thoughtful review.

  3. This sounds vaguely familiar, and quite fun. What I really need are more PRINCE tales, but may have to take a look at this (again?). Thanks for featuring.

  4. This sounds like a lot of fun. I do love fairy tales, so will try to pick this one up. Thanks for the review.

  5. I was an ordinary kid, so I can relate.

  6. MMK is one of my favorite authors. Fancy running into her here. What a delight.

  7. Have to admit, I've never read this one. But I like that the book has humor and doesn't take itself too seriously.

  8. I think I read this book like, forever ago, but now I need to re-read it. Thanks for reminding me!

  9. Jenni, I have to come back and read your post after I read THE ORDINARY PRINCESS. I love M. M. Kaye--especially THE FAR PAVILIONS--but I hadn't heard about this one. Thanks for posting this!

  10. I've never heard of this--but now I'm going to have to read it! It sounds great!