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The Ordinary Princess

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  8,995 ratings  ·  1,035 reviews
Along with Wit, Charm, Health, and Courage, Princess Amy of Phantasmorania receives a special fairy christening gift: Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown hair and freckles, and would rather have adventures than play the harp, embroider tapestries- or become a Queen. When her royal parents try to marry her off, Amy runs away, and because she's so o ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published September 12th 1984 by Doubleday & Company (first published 1980)
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Tadiana ✩ Night Owl☽
This one's for all you fairy tale lovers out there. This is a straight-up, no-holds-barred fairy tale, with lovely princesses who wear crowns and beautiful gowns and genteelly toss golden balls to each other and never get dirty or sweaty--

description

. . . well, actually, this story is mostly about the youngest sister of those princesses, whose fairy godmother took one look at the list of all the gifts this princess received at her christening, like Charm and Courage and Grace and Wit, and promptly decreed,
...more
Kristin
Jun 02, 2007 Kristin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls ages 8-12
Shelves: childhood-faves
"Violets are blue,
Rosemary's green,
When I am King,
You shall be Queen"

This was my absolute favorite book when I was a young girl. Amy, a smart, plucky, decidedly NOT classically beautiful princess, is given at birth the magical gift of being "ordinary". Years later, Amy reaches marriageable age. Since she isn't beautiful and vapid, her parents are quite worried whether any prince will have her, and there's some rash talk of giving her as the prize in a dragonslaying challenge. She doesn't like th
...more
Dani
Mar 18, 2008 Dani rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is tired of Shrek, Ella Enchanted, The Princess Diaries, etc.
Shelves: childrens-books
This was one of my favorite books as a child. I recently reread it in a fit of nostalgia.

I was disappointed that the fantastic 1986 cover has been replaced by some hot mess picture of an elven girl in a green dress. What happened to the 80's princess with freckles, frizzy brown hair, and a ridiculously ornate purple dress?

Reading the book as an adult, I was so relieved to read an earnest fairy tale for once. So many "fairy tale princess books" on the market are hideous, smarmy, wink-wink tales
...more
Algernon
[9/10]

Long and long ago, when Oberon was king of the fairies, there reigned over the fair country of Phantasmorania a monarch who had six beautiful daughters.
They were in every way all that real princesses should be, for their hair was as yellow as the gold that is mined by the little gnomes in the mountains of the north, their eyes were as blue as the larkspurs in the palace gardens, and they had complexions like wild rose petals and cream.


This is not their story! Barbie clones with perfect h
...more
Tash


Mind you folks that this is straight up fairytale released in the 80's , and the target demographic are tweens, so the writing is more classic children's book than YA. I love this precious book nonetheless. This is a story of Princess Amy of Phantasmorania, who has mousy brown hair and a freckled nose, because she was gifted with ordinariness at birth (obviously,her fairy godmother was drunk). (view spoiler)
...more
Monica!
As sometimes happens, I was completely and utterly convinced I had read this book before, and picked it up for a quick little re-read to remind myself of the plot.

Wow, Monica. Fail. Because I not only have apparently never read a page of Ordinary Princess, it also is such a brilliant novel that I’m sort of depressed I didn’t grow up with it. It deserved to be one of my favorite childhood stories, dammit, and now it never will get the chance! Sad face.

Anyway, getting off the “Now in retrospect my
...more
Becky
Oh my goodness, this was such a delightful book! I'm glad that I picked it up - sometimes it's easy to discount these kinds of books, but this one is a perfect example of why it's silly to do so.

Princess Amy is the seventh daughter of King Hulderbrand and Queen Rhodesia. All throughout history, the seventh daughter has been the most beautiful, the most extraordinary princess of them all - but not this time. This time, the most powerful Fairy, Crustacea, is out of patience when she arrives, dela
...more
Courtney Johnston
Last night I was so tired that I found myself crying for pretty much no reason. Just those small soft tears that come out and surprise you. I'm five weeks into the job of my life (so far, anyway) and I was exhausted. And scanning my shelves for something soothing to take to bed - something that would both settle my mind and make me happy - I settled on 'The Ordinary Princess'.

I remember borrowing and borrowing this book from my primary school library; I can see even now the shelf it sat on. Year
...more
Lisa Vegan
Dec 25, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents and young kids (especially girls) & everyone
Recommended to Lisa by: Chelsea
Charming book. This would have been one of my favorite books had I read it as a kid. I found it both enchanting and fun to read, reading it for the first time as an adult. A must read for kids & adults, especially young girls & their parents. Love the twist on the standard fairy tale. The illustrations by the author are lovely.

I’ll be giving this as a gift to several little girls.
TheBookSmugglers
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Once upon a time, there was a faraway kingdom called Phantasmorania, ruled by a benevolent King and Queen. This happy royal couple was also blessed with the birth of six beautiful daughters, each princess more beautiful than the last, with rippling blonde hair, jewel blue eyes, and the fairest complexions of palest cream. And, each princess was given the name of a precious stone - Diamond, Opal, Emerald, Sapphire, Crystal, and Pearl. One fine day, the roy
...more
Jessica
As delightful as I remembered! The kids really liked it, too! This is sort of a rare thing these days, in that it's a romance for children. Princess Amy's age is never talked about, but the entire book she's trying to dodge a horrible arranged marriage, and falls in love on her own. Sweet and charming, and I'd forgotten what a hilarious satire it is of classic fairy tales.
Cheryl
Found in a charity shop, so reread again. Didn't know this as a child, but I've read it at least three times as an adult to try to make it up to young me.

Reminds me a bit of The 13 Clocks and Many Moons by James Thurber, or The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame or even The Light Princess by George MacDonald... if you like any in my list here, read the others too....
Chelsea
One of my all-time favorite books, and one I reread regularly. When Princess Amethyst is born, her (slightly creepy) agreeableness prompts the oldest and crankiest of the fairies to give her the gift of ordinariness. And what a gift! Amy's fate suddenly takes a sharp turn, which results in mistaken identities, dragons, fake portraits, jewelry made from trees, and grandly named woodland animals.

Charming, quirky, and one of those rare books that presents a fully-formed world quite removed from our
...more
Hannah  Walsh
First Read in 2012

Absolutely precious <3

I was like "awwwww!!" the whole time.

Awwwwww!!

Re-read in 2015
Elinor  Loredan
Perhaps what I love best about this delight of a story (quite apart from the great wisteria and lovely Forest of Faraway) is the whimsical narrative voice that is sympathetic to the characters and makes them endearing, even the controlling King and Queen who only seem to care about marrying Amy off to a royal Highness. From the start the whole thing is hued in warm gold.

I do find it rather hard to believe, though, that no one in the castle seems to take an interest in Amy beyond making her less
...more
Holly
May 16, 2008 Holly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys fairy tales, fairy tale retellings, and fairy tale-like fantasy
Shelves: fantasy
A charming, quirky little quasi-fairy tale about a princess who was given the gift of ordinariness at her birth. I love the plot...everything that happens, and especially the ending, is just right. It made me sigh happily at the end. The characters aren't terribly complex, but Princess Amy is a likeable protagonist if ever I met one, and the courtiers and family members surrounding her are woefully funny in their ridiculousness. To quote Erin, "You know how the movie Enchanted poked fun at fairy ...more
Karen
I first discovered this book as a teenager, and it instantly became one of my favorite books. The other day, the song from the book kept running through my head, so I decided to re-read it. I couldn't find my copy, so I went to the library and checked out the copy I first read and fell in love with. I love this older version and it's beautiful cover. (So, I went online and looked for that version to buy. I ordered one and hope it is what I want. If not, I'll give it to one of my sisters since th ...more
[Name Redacted]
Huh. Well, that was disappointing. I wonder if i might have thought this better had I not read so many variations of the same story before? The key problem I have is that the princess is ordinary in appearance only, not in character or wit or intellect. She's like so many other heroines in books of this stripe, books and tales which pre-date this story by decades if not centuries. And the ending? Typical of every story of this sort -- I was hoping for a tale in which the princess bucked the ster ...more
☆ Ruth ☆
A charming, old-fashioned princess story for little girls of all ages :) Easily read in a day or so, the kind of book to pick up when you're perhaps feeling a little jaded and just longing for a 'happily ever after' ending.
Andrea
A short, very sweet story for younger readers about a princess given "ordinariness" by a fairy godmother. I liked most that Amy is never taken aback, and always is quick to deal with situations, with considerable good cheer.
Whitney
A story with a sturdy independent streak clothed in a classic (think Hans Christian Andersen with a literary voice that sounds a bit like Kate DiCamillo's "Tale of Despereaux")fairytale form.
Mary Catelli
A light fairy-tale retelling with some minor twists. The fairy who arrives late at the christening of the seventh princess gives her Ordinariness. She promptly demonstrates it by screaming like a tired baby surrounded by a lot of noise.

Her looks immediately start to change to a rather ordinary and freckled appearance. Not exactly hindered by her discovery that she could climb down the wisteria and frolic in the Forest of Faraway with the wild animals while her sisters played catch with a golden
...more
Susan
Very cute princess story. An ordinary princess can have LOTS more fun and adventures than the normal kind...and still end up with a happily ever after - her kind!
Marissa
Really cute and good. I recommend this one!
The Silent Reader
May 03, 2011 The Silent Reader rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children and those who love fairy tales
WANTED: One little princess, preferably the youngest of seven. Should have no blue eyes and no golden hair. Should love the woods more than her clothes. In other words, should be 'ordinary'.

In her foreword to The Ordinary Princess M M Kaye says she was inspired to write this story after re-reading a few of Andrew Lang's fairy tales. Realising that the princesses mentioned were, for the most part, blue-eyed and gloden-haired and quite perfect, Kaye decided that a story about an imperfect princes
...more
CRO
3.5 stars

So I'm new to this whole goodreads recommendations thing - where after 20 rated books they start using their computer voodoo to start suggesting things they think you will like. Hmmmmmmm.

I'm a little concerned - because goodreads obviously thinks - from my reading list - that I'm an 8 year old girl.

Not bad -sort of Robin Mckinley light. I liked all the themes - good lessons for young women: inner beauty is just as powerful as outer beauty, everyone is special and has a right to a place
...more
Jennifer
I wish I would have read this as a child, because this book really needs a little girl's perspective to do this review justice. My little adult head cannot quite wrap itself around the premise.

Amy got a lot of differential treatment for being "Ordinary" (a curse or blessing, depending on whose view you take of it, from a fairy who takes one look at the giant piles of presents and all the fanfare and turns a beautiful child into an ordinary one). Amy is a nice person, and she doesn't really want
...more
Lydia
As a fellow lover of Lang's colored fairy stories collections, it is very easy to see where Ms. Kaye got her inspiration for much of this book and enjoy her nods to them while taking her own path.

This is the story of a seventh princess who by all rights of princesses in fairy tales should have been the most beautiful, etc. and so forth, of all princesses in a family of beautiful (and rather dull) princesses. Fortunately for Amy, on the day of her christening, a highly sensible fairy blesses her

...more
Bobby
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Intisar Khanani
A whimsical fairy tale of a story focusing on a princess who is unremarkable in appearance and interests, though she does still have a great deal going for her in the charm and gentleness department. A great story for younger readers, or a quick little break for older readers looking for something sweetly innocent to pass the time (and, as an adult, I would be surprised if the book took even two hours to zip through). The writing is reminiscent of another time in the best of ways. I might have w ...more
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A book EVERY girl should read... 7 45 Nov 09, 2014 07:10PM  
Loved it cos she gets to ruin her dress & make a mess! 1 14 Mar 26, 2012 05:31PM  
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M. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret) was born in India and spent her early childhood and much of her early-married life there. Her family ties with the country are strong: her grandfather, father, brother and husband all served the British Raj. After India's independence, her husband, Major-General Goff Hamilton of Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides (the famous Indian Army regiment featured in The Far Pav ...more
More about M.M. Kaye...
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“This story was written many moons ago under an apple tree in an orchard in Kent, which is one of England's prettiest counties . . . I had read at least twenty of the [fairy tales] when I noticed something that had never struck me before--I suppose because I had always taken it for granted. All the princesses, apart from such rare exceptions as Snow White, were blond, blue-eyed, and beautiful, with lovely figures and complexions and extravagantly long hair. 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. They would all have been of chasing after some lissome Royal Highness with large blue eyes and yards of golden hair and probably nothing whatever between her ears! It was in that moment that a story about a princess who turned out to be ordinary jumped into my mind, and the very next morning I took my pencil box and a large rough-notebook down to the orchard and, having settled myself under an apple tree in full bloom, began to write . . . the day was warm and windless and without a cloud in the sky. A perfect day and a perfect place to write a fairy story.” 35 likes
“...for though she was ordinary, she possessed health, wit, courage, charm, and cheerfulness. But because she was not beautiful, no one ever seemed to notice these other qualities, which is so often the way of the world.” 25 likes
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