A Slightly Painful Truth

Review #15

Book: We Hold These Truths by Andrew Clements

Audience: C

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Rating:bookbookbook

Benjamin Pratt and his friends Robert and Jill lead a group of people in an effort to save their school from destruction. Students, teachers, and parents work together to stop a developer from leveling the historic building and raising an amusement park. This group, calling themselves The Keepers of the School, avail themselves of every possible aid and situation, such as old maps, cryptic messages, secret passageways, hidden panels, and graduation ceremonies as they try to foil two rogue janitors and discover the one irrefutable failsafe to rescue their school before the demolition begins.

Interesting premise that fell a little short on delivery. This is actually the fifth and final book in a series, which I didn’t know when I bought it. I don’t think I missed much, though, since each of the clues discovered in the previous installments was mentioned and explained. While the content of that final failsafe was a surprise, little else was. Readers of Mr. Clements’ other works, especially his best known Frindle (although my personal fave is The Landry News), will see some writing patterns and plot devices he has made good use of before. Harmless, nice little story, even if the wrap-up is a bit self-evident.

An Ordinary Tale

Review #14

Book: The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

Audience: C

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: bookbookbook

In The Ordinary Princess, M.M. Kaye attempts to upend fairy tale conventions. And, in part, she does. Princess Amethyst (Amy for short) is the youngest of several beautiful, charming, talented, graceful (etc., etc.) princesses. At her birth celebration the traditional fairies come to bestow their traditional gifts. This is where things get interesting. The final fairy comes forth and, tired of the usual, boring, and mundane gifts, she decrees that Princess Amy will be ordinary—plain looking, no exemplary talent, no particular charm or grace. In short, Amy herself will be boring and mundane.

This, however, is the extent of Miss Kaye’s fairy tale rebellion. We are now accustomed to having our fairy tale heroines be smart, brave, self-sufficient young ladies who always get their man. Amy is no different. Yes, she becomes a kitchen maid and briefly has to work for a living, but she is still friends with the woodland animals and still marries her prince. So this ordinary heroine with her ordinary plot and her ordinary happy ending merits an ordinary rating.