The Rescue Princesses: The Secret Promise by Paula Harrison

For 5-8 readers, notably little girls, I have this, The Ultimate Girly Read! So girly it’s even in pink, but… this is not just any girly-girly-princessey series. This one had something different enough about it that it even managed to interest definitely not-girly BooKa Uhu. Read on…

Publisher: Nosy Crow, image used with their kind permission

ISBN: 9780857630971
Published: 5/4/2012
Princess Emily is very excited – she’s going to a ball aimed at showing off all the young princesses in the various kingdoms and she cannot wait! Once she gets there she meets Clarabel, Jaminta and Lulu, each a princess from a different land, and the four become fast friends. However, being a proper princess can get rather dull and there’s a new zip wire to secretly try out, the princes to meet, and the sinister Duke Raven, who’s got evil plans for the King’s prize deer….
Any young girl who loves the Rainbow Magic series will LOVE this new girly set of stories. Definitely not to my taste, but then, I’m not exactly a 6 year old girl anymore! In the space of 128 pages the four princesses change outfits multiple times, get measured for new frocks, acquire tiaras, go to a ball, meet princes, try out a zip wire, learn ninja skills, foil the evil Duke’s plans AND manage to save a cute baby deer. Enough action for any young reader, and illustrated throughout. The chapters are quite long, so perhaps not the best one to start off more confident reading with, but the text is large, the words aren’t too phonically difficult and there are stylised illustrations scattered throughout that break the story up nicely. Although I admit to finding myself exclaiming loudly over just what these princesses could do (I rather startled my sister one time and had to explain myself sharpish), I really did like the pictures! The book is also charmingly ethnically diverse, with each princess coming from a notably different ethnicity without that being the big point of the story. Each book in the series will be set around one princess, so we’ll end up in Jaminta’s country Lulu’s country in another book.
The girls themselves were not soppily girly either despite what I first thought – the author goes to great pains to mention how they DON’T want to just act like perfect, spoilt princesses and really just want to mess about on the zipwire and learn ninja skills. Quite refreshing really for a book about princesses and not at all what I expected. I quite liked how determined the girls were and borderline tomboyish (one’s even a technological genius!)they were. So while the book is not to my taste and does require a good deal of suspension of disbelief, I do like this new set and would happily see it on a little girl’s shelf! The characters counterbalance the occasionally jaw-dropping points in the plot and I’ve grown kind of fond of the book despite myself. Anyone who likes Holly Webb or Daisy Meadows would be quite at home with this read and for parents they’re a nice series to have as an alternative.

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