In this new stand-alone fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie—blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic—can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.
But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn’t possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father’s guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family...and perhaps even find a true love of her own.
Do you think you know what happened after Princess Gwendolyn (Sleeping Beauty) pricked her finger on the spinning wheel and fell into a magical sleep? According to Baker's new book, Disney got it wrong. It wasn't prince charming who saved Gwendolyn, it was her younger sister, Annie.
Fearing a fate similar to Gwendolyn's, Annie's parents allow only one fairy to bestow a magical gift upon their daughter. This gift means that Annie will be impervious to all forms of magic for the rest of her life. Her gift also drains the magic from others around her. This has made Annie an outcast in her family's castle. Since both her mother and sister were given the gift of beauty, it begins fades in Annie's presence. Despite this, Annie is very kind to those around her. After everyone inside the castle has fallen asleep, she takes time to make sure that everyone is in a comfortable position before she heads off to find a way to break the spell. Annie was also fairly sensible. Instead of relying solely on Gwen's obnoxious boyfriend, Prince Digby, to break the spell, Annie invited numerous other princes back to the castle.
There were a lot of other fairytale references in this book that I really enjoyed (Rapunzel, the Frog Prince). While I think that some younger readers may not recognize all of them, as an older reader I really appreciated these extra twists in the story. I also enjoyed the romance between Annie and Liam. Their feelings for each other seemed to be more genuine, because they weren't based around fairy gifts like beauty, and grace. Don't hesitate simply because it's a middle-grade book. The Wide-Awake Princess was a unique fairytale, with a strong, intelligent heroine.
The Wide-Awake Princess
By E.D. Baker
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: May 11, 2010
Thanks to Kate from Bloomsbury USA, and E.D. Baker for this one!