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Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Release Date: 1/31/2012
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About the Book: When her father the king arrives home with a new wife, Princess Meriel and her brothers are all suspicious. When Meriel discovers the new queen has sent her brothers to school, she believes something more sinister is at work. Meriel discovers that the queen has turned her brothers into swans. With the help of her brother's friend Riona, Meriel finds a way to break the spell. But with winter coming, will she be able to free her brothers of their swan form before the lake freezes over or will they have to fly south or perish?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: If you work with tween readers who love fairy tales, Gale Carson Levine and Shannon Hale, make sure you are stocking Diane Zahler's books in your library. Her fairy tale retellings are the perfect books to get into the hands of tween readers looking for exciting fantasy. I'm always impressed with Ms. Zahler's descriptive worlds and attention to details. Her cast of characters are always memorable and enjoyable and Princess of the Wild Swans is no exception.
Ms. Zahler has a skill at packing a lot of detail and plot into a short book and keeping the story moving. She's also a master of showing and not telling her readers. Meriel starts out as a bit of a stuck up princess who honestly is a bit rude and yet has a wonderful transformation and she learns to trust others and accepts the help of those around her. This never is a heavy handed message, but is instead woven nicely into the storyline as Meriel needs to rely on the townspeople around her to help free her brothers. Instead of looking at them as "common folk" she has to accept that they have something to offer her. There's also a nice story about one of Meriel's brothers falling for a girl in town, Riona, who is a half witch and all that they face because they are not of the same position.
There is a nice mix of magic, friendship, family and loyalty to make this a wonderful fairy tale. I wanted to be part of the town because the cast of characters was just so fun. I would love a visit to the apothecary's shop and getting to know Riona and her brother Liam and learning more about their garden. This book was like taking a trip to wonderful world that felt new and familiar at the same time. I would love to visit it again!
If you're a fan of fairy tales, Princess of the Wild Swans is a book to add to your reading pile. I can't wait to hand this one over to my avid tween readers!
Book Pairings: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
Reviewed from ARC I picked up at ALA