The Ordinary Princess

Title: The Ordinary Princess
Author: M.M. Kaye
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 1980
Pages: 112
Possible Censorship Issues: Some mild classic fairy tale magic

In her introduction, M.M. Kaye explains that her inspiration for The Ordinary Princess came as she sat reading Andrew Lang’s fairy books and noticed that (bar a few exceptions) every single princess was a blond, blue-eyed beauty. Kaye stated, “This struck me as most unfair, and suddenly I began to wonder just how many handsome young princes would have asked a king for the hand of his daughter if that daughter had happened to be gawky, snub-nosed, and freckled, with shortish mouse-colored hair? None, I suspected” (XII).  The result of this realization produced a wonderfully hilarious tale that is as enchanting as it is insightful.

On the day of her christening the Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne (fortunately known as Amy) is overwhelmed with gifts of every marvelous sort; that is, until a powerful fairy “curses” her with normality. Despite the desperate efforts of her mother, Amy finds herself without any distinguishable beauty, talent, or prestige. Being a bitter disappointment to everyone around her, Amy flees and discovers that her identity isn’t found in the eyes of others, but rather in the way she perceives herself, and the joy she finds in an “ordinary” life.

The greatest aspect of this story is that the protagonist isn’t the classic damsel-in-distress archetypal character. In fact, it boasts quite the opposite with Amy being entirely comfortable in her own skin, but without the hard and moody independence that most female characters exhibit.  Amy is kind, charming, and lovable while displaying her own individuality; in short, she is an excellent role model for young girls. Also, a nice change of pace is that there is no physical villain in this story; the only crime is found in the stereotypical expectations displayed by various characters in the book.

Utterly hilarious, heartwarming, and witty, this book has quickly earned a spot as one of my favorite children’s books. I laughed out loud countless times at Kaye’s humor and admired the stunning illustrations scattered throughout the story (drawn by Kaye herself). In my opinion, The Ordinary Princess can be enjoyed by all ages, and is a book that every young girl should read, own, and treasure as she grows up.

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