Princess in Disguise: A Tale of the Wide-Awake Princess, Book 4

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Princess in Disguise: A Tale of the Wide-Awake Princess, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Fewer thrills, more relationship focus in this installment.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about resourcefulness, autonomy, problem solving, gender equality, wit, fairness, integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are simplistically good or bad, but the central characters are conscientious, honest, ethical, and compassionate, and they care about communities and doing the right thing. They make mistakes but admit them and do everything to fix them. Of note, the primary relationship between Annie and Liam is one of mutual respect, care, and kindness.

Violence & Scariness

Mostly mischief and ominous threats, such as rats, a snake bite, and dangerous flooding. Ogres have a bludgeoning contest; a woman wields a knife; magic spells transform people into animals.

Language

Some name-calling: "stupid."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Princess in Disguise: A Tale of the Wide-Awake Princess is the fourth book in the Wide-Awake series from E.D. Baker. Here, the series continues to reimagine princesses as courageous, compassionate, ethical heroines whose looks are the least important thing about them. Instead, they work to be inclusive, fair, kind royals who consider others, take great risks to protect those they care about, and do whatever it takes to set things right. Though the plot points still mimic those of traditional fairy tales and the gender roles necessitated by them -- here Annie and Liam are in the midst of planning a wedding -- the book strives to emphasize character over superficial concerns at every turn and challenges readers to question their assumptions about what girls and boys can or should do. 

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What's the story?

In PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: A TALE OF THE WIDE-AWAKE PRINCESS, Annie and Liam are excited to finally be married -- until everything about their special day takes a turn for the worse, from sudden flooding at the castle to a surge of rats to rashes befalling Snow White and Cinderella. Instead of spending a day enjoying perfect wedded bliss, Annie and Liam must figure out whom they've angered and what they can do about it. But to do so, they'll have to find disguises and hit the road for one last adventure before they wed.

Is it any good?

This installment in the series isn't as suspenseful as the previous books, but it upholds the series tradition of giving Annie room to be resourceful, smart, headstrong, and compassionate. It also provides a deeper exploration of her relationship with Liam and shows what a mutually respectful relationship of equals looks like.

The plot's twists and turns are less thrilling than in earlier books, and the focus here is more on Annie and Liam's relationship than on Annie's individual problem-solving. But the team works together to solve problems and establish themselves as benevolent, kind royals, with the focus on their compassion as a couple.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about princess books. Why do you think fairy tales are still so popular?

  • How does Princess in Disguise challenge our notions of what princesses are like? How is Annie different, aside from the fact that magic doesn't work on her?

  • How does Princess in Disguise explore our notions of what princes should act like? How is Liam different from other princes?

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