Book: Garden Princess
Author: Kristin Kladstrup
Genre: Children’s Fiction/Fantasy/Royalty/Life Lessons
Summary: Princess Adela has always been more than a little unconventional. She would rather work in her garden than find a husband - much to her step-mother’s dismay - and Adela’s version of happily ever after involves traveling the world and collecting rare plant specimens. So when the opportunity arises to attend a garden party thrown by Lady Hortensia, whose beauty is rumored to be rivaled only by the loveliness of her gardens, Adela cannot resist inviting herself, even if it means wearing a too-tight dress and impractical shoes. But the moment Adela sets eyes on Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom - in the middle of October! Not only that, but a talking magpie is stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that magic is involved? Can Adela get to the root of the mystery before it’s too late? - Candlewick Press, 2013.
For this book, I have to be gentle in my critique because it’s technically a children’s book and I’m reading it as an adult.
The story is pleasant and it teaches some valuable life lessons, which include: Your past doesn’t define you; being beautiful isn’t the most important quality you can have, etc. It is fast-paced, which makes sense as it’s hard to keep a child’s attention sometimes if the plot moves too slowly. Because of this, the story isn’t as fleshed out, solutions come a little too quickly and everything is wrapped up in a nice, “happily-ever-after” bow that makes sure everything is settled - even if it means sacrificing the development of the characters.
The characters are tropes - the princess who isn’t understood, the male best friend, the ditzy female friend, the vain witch, and so on. They fulfill their various purposes nicely and each plays their role as you would expect. They have little to no depth whatsoever; seeing as this is a children’s book, though, you don’t have that opportunity to flesh them out as much as you would in an adult novel.
Kladstrup uses a lot of big words in the story so the child’s vocabulary will certainly increase after reading this book. That’s one of the bright sides.
The only problem I feel I’m allowed to complain about is the “romance” in the story. The love plot is incredibly rushed and, honestly, not believable. It feels like it was shoe-horned in at the last minute in order to check it off of the fairy-tale plot checklist. It’s potential for a relationship is cute, but the timing is just not used well at all.
Overall, it’s a nice book that does teach some valuable life lessons for kids.
I give Garden Princess a B-.
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