In her second term at Tall Towers Princess Academy, Princess Grace bucks the rules and tackles adventures.
Eschewing the cloying princess/feminine stereotypes that marred the first book, Kuenzler here gives Princess Grace—still clumsy and still tormented by her mean-girl blonde cousin Princess Precious—a mind of her own. When Grace befriends Hetty, the motherless niece of the school’s gamekeeper, and gives her riding lessons on Billy, Grace’s unicorn, she knows she is breaking the only-princesses-are-allowed-to-ride-unicorns rule, but she doesn’t care. Instead, she questions the rules themselves. Riding one day, the two girls discover an abandoned baby dragon. Although they know that princesses are a dragon’s favorite food, they smuggle milk (Grace matter-of-factly milks a cow to get the milk) to the dragon and it thrives. Threading through this adventure is the looming spring ballet dance, which Grace is dreading, since she is not, to put it mildly, graceful. While her best friends from Book 1, Izumi and Scarlet, practice their dances, Grace, thinking she needs to keep the dragon a secret from them, eludes them. Misunderstandings that illuminate touching and familiar adolescent insecurities ensue. The dramatic conclusion of this engaging and tightly plotted story celebrates community and friendship. Scott’s spot illustrations add a lighthearted tone but show minimal racial diversity; save for Asian-coded Izumi, the significant characters are mostly white.
Feisty, compassionate, and independently minded—Princess DisGrace comes into her own. (Fantasy. 7-10)