I love fairy tales, and I love fairy tale adaptations. I’ve read so many that I’ve decided to make them their own special blog day!
The Wide-Awake Princess is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2010 by Bloomsbury. Baker’s website can be found here.
“When Princess Gwen (otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty) pricks her finger and sends herself and the whole castle to sleep for one hundred years, only her younger sister, Annie, is left awake. And only Annie—blessed (and cursed) with being resistant to magic—can venture beyond the rose-covered hedge to get help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.
But what about the one hundred years? And who is Gwen’s true love? Her irritating suitor, Digby? The happy-go-lucky prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose evil motives couldn’t possibly spell true love?
Joined by Liam, one of her father’s guards, Annie travels through a fairy-tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to find the prince to rescue her sister…and perhaps even discover a true love of her own.”
A great, unique twist on a classic fairy tale! More than one, actually. All the fairy tale characters we met in this book had a different spin, such as the witch from Hansel and Gretel being forgetful and writing down instructions on how to cook children on candy hearts and sticking them to her walls. Even the story of Sleeping Beauty was different in execution and, of course, in resolution.
Annie was one of those “rebellious princesses” (and by “rebellious” I mean “not wanting to conform to princess rules”) but I actually quite liked the trope this time because Baker executed exactly the way it should be executed, in my opinion. Annie wasn’t rebellious for no apparent reason as many of the trope are. She wanted to do everything her sister didn’t do; thus, she could read, ride horses, etc. That’s a much better way to portray that trope then the standard.
I loved how Annie just went out and got every single prince to come kiss her sister, and I love how, after the successful one woke her up, Gwen freaked out and then, when Annie said, “He’s your true love!” she immediately switched to the prince being the love of her life. Actually, it’s a great illustration of how everyone in the kingdom is silly (because of the magic?) to some degree, and Annie is the only non-silly one (besides Liam) and thus can get stuff done that others can’t.
Oh, Liam, why couldn’t you have stayed a soldier? Why did you have to conveniently be a prince the entire time? (Well, okay, this is a fairy tale…)
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade
Gwendolyn turned the tree around, revealing another, smaller key at the base of the egg. Beaming with delight, she wound the key, which made the egg spin and play a merry tune that soon had the ladies tapping their feet. This time when it stopped, the sides split in quarters, revealing a tiny object covered with precious gems.
“What is it?” said Gwendolyn.
The sides of the egg continued to lower. When they were down all the way, the object tilted to one side and tumbled out of the egg.
Gwendolyn’s hand shot out and caught the object before it hit the floor. “I have it! Look! It’s lovely. What do you think it is? Oh!” she exclaimed, looking at her hand in dismay.
“No, it can’t be!” cried the queen.
Andreas frowned. “If you didn’t want to marry me, you shouldn’t have entered the contest.”
“It isn’t that I wouldn’t like to marry you, but my sister, Gwendolyn—”
“Princess Gwendolyn? Isn’t she supposed to be the most beautiful princess in all the kingdoms?”
“I understand how angry you must be with me, but Gwennie needs you and—”
“All she needs is one kiss? Then what happens, I mean, after I kiss her and she wakes up?”
“Why, it would mean that you were her true love, so I suppose you would get married and—”
“I would marry Princess Gwendolyn? The most beautiful princess in all the kingdoms?”
“Yes, and I know that wasn’t what you had in mind, but—”
“No, no! I’d be happy to help. When do we leave?”
A great twist on a popular fairy-tale, with tons of fun moments and an awesome princess who can scare even the most dangerous fairies just by threatening to move in with them. The only damper was Liam, who was cute but a convenient prince.
You can buy this here: The Wide-Awake Princess