Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A True Princess by Diane Zahler - Review

A True PrincessA True Princess
Diane Zahler
Harper Collins Children's Books
182 pgs.

12-year-old Lilia overhears her father, Jorgen, agreeing to send her to work for the abusive town miller.  Ylva, Jorgen's new wife, convinces him that it will be best for them and their new family. Although Jorgen is not Lilia's true father, he found her floating in a basket ten years ago, he's never treated her differently than Kai or Karina, his children from his first wife.  Until now.

Ylva's preparation for her new baby includes setting out a blanket she's been saving for years. The same blanket Lilia was wrapped in when Jorgen found her.  Seeing the blanket, Lilia knows what she must do. Since her basket floated from the North, she decides to run away and try to find information on her family.  Before going far, she's joined by Kai and Karina.  As they travel north they meet a variety of people, including some from the northern town of Dalir, where the prince is looking for a princess.  Their quest involves lots of adventure, a mystery and an encounter with the Elf King.

Zahler combines the well-known tale of the princess and the pea with the lesser-known, at least by me, one of the Elf King and his penchant for children under seven.  A True Princess is saved from predictability by having Karina and Lilia, two girls who could each turn out to be the princess of the title.  The story is only slightly marred by Lilia and crew overcoming problems too simplistically and often with vague phrases such as "though I did not know why" or " an urge I didn't understand".  Still, A True Princess, along with The Thirteenth Princess, also by Zahler, are a nice middle grade alternative to the Once Upon a Time series of young adult retellings.  Purchase this for your elementary or middle school library!

About the Author

Diane Zahler, author of A True Princess, has loved tales of fairies and magic since before she was old enough to read. She has worked in the children’s room at a public library, in children’s book publishing, and as an elementary and high school textbook writer. The Thirteenth Princess, her first novel for young readers, was published in 2010. She lives with her husband and dog in an old farmhouse in the Harlem Valley that is held together with duct tape and magic spells.

A True Princess Blog Tour

Thursday, Feb. 3Jean Little Library
Thursday, Feb. 3Galleysmith
Friday, Feb. 4Write for a Reader
Saturday, Feb. 5The Cozy Reader

Full Tour Schedule

Thank you to Diane Zahler and Harper for this ARC.


  1. Just finished A True Princess. How refreshing to find a heroine in Lilia who is uncertain of herself at the start and who actually develops psychologically through her adventures--a bracing alternative to the cult of predictably spunky and unchanging adolescent protagonists. Zahler's handing of Lilia's interiority and self-questioning challenges readers to recogize the complex implications underlying her sometimes ambiguous thoughts. This is a book that rewards careful scruity without ever diminishing its appeal to a young (or old) reader's imagination.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous -- and thank you, Kathy, for hosting me on the blog tour. Love your site!

  3. I read this book a few weeks ago. I love retellings of fairy tales. I also enjoyed Lilia's character. She was so strong. My (girl) students are enjoying sharing this book.


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