A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's prolific mention of name brands, usage of teenage jargon "like" and "she was all," and discussion of first romantic encounters. There are references to sidecar drinks, flat and big-chested girls, losing virginity on prom night, and kids using the drug Ecstasy. While this book appeals to younger tweens, the princess' teen issues are a better fit for readers 12 and up.
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What's the story?
Sixteen-year-old Princess Mia is sitting in her limo about to travel to Genovia for the summer. That's when she discovers her journal from one and a half years ago and finds the section about Valentine's Day with her boyfriend Michael. He does not believe in the holiday, while she finds it a special time to express how she feels about him. Friends offer input, agreeing and disagreeing. In the meantime, her Princess lessons with her Grandmere have stopped as her Grandmere has developed a friendship with a mystic Dr. Steve and has disappeared, except for appearances on talk shows.
Is it any good?
This is basically fun fluff that will be hard for readers to put down. Hugely successful author Meg Cabot has cornered the market on writing for female tweens, having created a character that is very relatable as a gawky high school student yet fulfills young girls' fantasies of being a princess. This volume in the series is also written as journal entries. In VALENTINE PRINCESS Mia is actually rereading a diary from a year and a half before her first Valentine's Day with her boyfriend Michael.
Mia's a good kid at heart with strong morals and resistance to peer pressure, but there's not much here in the way of substance or tough challenges for her to face, making her a less relatable and engaging character and this series less meaningful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Valentine's Day -- what is this holiday about? Is it a means for card companies to earn money or are there meaningful, cost-free ways to observe it? Even though Mia is a princess, how is she still relatable to readers? Why does Mia keep a journal? Parents can point out how the process of journaling helps kids make sense of events in their lives -- a valuable tool during the tumultuous tween/teen years.
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