Written by D.J. MacHale, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Our story began such a long time ago.
Or was it last week? We don’t really know.
This castle contains: Three princesses
Lala is a rugabee, which is a kind of small gnome, who lives in an underground cave and digs up krinkle nuts. More than anything, Lala wants to be a princess, so one day she leaves the cave to go on an adventure. She visits a nearby castle where three young princesses live and she sneaks into their room to try on their pretty dresses. When they return and scream at her, Lala explains that she just wanted a chance to dress up. The three princesses come up with a plan and they give her a makeover, dress her up in one of their finest gowns and bring her downstairs to the ball. But, not being used to walking in such a big dress, Lala falls down the stairs. Everyone laughs and the princesses send her away, telling her that she will never be anything but a monster. She goes back home, terribly unhappy, but realizes she needs to return the dress. On her way back, she sees the princesses being attacked by a wiffle (which is sort of a giant monster). She runs home and gets some krinkle nuts (which wiffles love) and uses them to save the princesses. They apologize for their actions and invite her to be a princess with them. Lala declines, as she’s proud and content to be exactly who she is.
This is the first picture book from D.J. MacHale, who is best known as the author of the Pendragon book series for young adults. The story is told in a rhyme scheme that doesn’t quite live up to other rhyming verse books that I’ve read recently. I did like the character of Lala and the way that she rises above the cruelty of the princesses and makes the decision to be contented with who she is, having realized that the title of ‘princess’ isn’t what makes you special.
Illustrator Alexandra Boiger draws Lala as spunky and adorable and you can’t help but root for her from the very beginning. The artwork, in pastels, contrasts the warm tidy cave where Lala lives and the cluttered and messy room that the princesses share. Ms. Boiger draws the princesses as lovely girls, which is a good choice, since there are plenty of mean people out there whose looks don’t give them away. I especially love Lala’s flowing green hair and cute little furry body. I think little girls will love this story about self-acceptance.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that sometimes, when you get to see the reality of what you think you want, you realize you’ve already got it pretty good.