Sunday, June 07, 2020

The Ruby Princess Runs Away

Malcolm, Jahnna N. The Ruby Princess Runs Away (Jewel Kingdom #1) 
May 5th 2020 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published 1997)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Roxanne is set to be crowned Ruby Princess and sent off to rule over her own kingdom. Her cousins are also going to be crowned, but Rozanne feels that she doesn't know enough to rule and doesn't want to leave her family to be all alone in a far flung castle, so she runs away right before the ceremony. Pip, a bird who is a castle secretary, takes off with her. Unfortunately, Lord Bleak and his Dreadlings have stolen the Ruby crown, and when they find that Roxanne has run away, send a replacement who is wearing a magical mask that makes her look just like her. Luckily, a friendly dragon named Happy helps Roxanne by rescuing her from Dreadlings and giving her a magic shield that makes her invisible. Roxanne also meets the gnomlings who made her crown, which was stolen from them by the Dreadlings, who also injured Applesap. She sends the two to the castle on Happy's back, and takes off across the haunted forest to get back to the palace in order to stop the impostor from being crowned. Will she and Pip be able to make it back in one piece and save the kingdom?
Strengths: My daughter, Picky Reader, adored these beyond all reason, and she was not a big reader. I managed to collect the twelve book series (plus one Super Special) from thrift stores, which shows how popular they were in the late 1990s. The original princess were all portrayed as very Anglo-Germanic, but the updated illustrations diversify their looks; they are now cousins. There is a fair amount of action, and some good lessons about duty, with realistic emotions shown by Roxanne.
Weaknesses: Can you say Castle Dread across the Dismal Sea, populated by Lord Lord Bleak and the Dreadlings? Shades of Gargamel and the Purple Pieman, Batman! A bit twee for middle school,
What I really think: These are being reissued in paperback, but Follett has them in a prebind. A fine choice for younger elementary school readers, and if you have the original series but book are missing any volume up to book four, this is your chance to replace it!

Ms. Yingling

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