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A True Princess (Fairy Tale Princesses)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  793 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Twelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she's terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the f ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by HarperCollins (first published April 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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The more I look at the cover of A True Princess by Diane Zahler, the more I think this cover is really pretty. Friends, I’m really just attracted to bright colors, magpie syndrome and all. I guess I’m also really attracted to fairy tale retellings, especially when it’s an under the radar fairy tale. Zahler takes on The Princess And The Pea in A True Princess.

Read the rest of my review here
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids

review I absolutely loved this retelling of Princess and the Pea and it's unique spin. A True Princess is a fantastic story with a fabulous main character who's strong, independent, fearless and one I think many readers will enjoy getting to know.

Lilia doesn't know much about where she came from, and in her dreams she has flashbacks of her life before she ended up on a farm. Found when she was a toddler by a kind farmer who had two younger children of his own, she grew up close to Kia and Karin
Ea Solinas
Let's have a moment of applause for Diane Zahler. I have never seen another author do what she has done.

While she reworked a fairy tale into a fantasy novel before, Zahler does something slightly different in her second novel "A True Princess" -- she blends together two different fairy tales into one delicately-wrought fantasy story, and then drapes it with some Germanic/Norse folklore. It's a charming, cleverly-written little story that succeeds in surprising you.

As a baby, Lilia was found in t
Among the many delights of Zahler's hybrid narrative are her minor characters -- the nisse, a cantankerous but well-intentioned imp, the Elf-King's daughter, an embodiment of dangerous beauty, and Ove, a charming Border collie (nicely depicted on the cover!), who is protector and companion on Lilia's journey of self-discovery.How many children's book writers are bold enough to incorporate Goethe's verse into their witch's brew of legends? More, please!
Found floating down the river in a basket as a baby, Lilia was raised by a shepherd, but never allowed to be a true part of the family. When Lilia overhears plans to sell her to the miller, she decides it is time to leave the farm behind, and travel upriver in search of her origins. On the way, she is joined by Kai and Karina, the shepherd’s biological children, who run away from home to accompany Lilia. They find more adventure than they bargained for when Kai is enchanted by the Elf King’s dau ...more
Left with no family and discovered by a lowly sheepherder whom had recently been remarried, Lilia is very much out of her element. Much like Cinderella, instead of being accepted into this new family, the new wife raises her as a servant, a position to which she is quite terrible at. After the discovery that another addition to the family will end in her being “sold” Lilia decides it’s time to discover where she comes from and who she was meant to be. An adventure awaits not only her, but her co ...more
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
There are several things in life that I find hard to resist: shoes, free books, and retellings of fairy tales. A True Princess (Diane Zahler) was a quaint retelling of the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” Unlike the well-known fairy tale version, however, this retelling is packed full of adventure and “girl power."

The story begins when Lilia, the adventurous protagonist of the story, finds herself in a very difficult situation. She has to decide whether or not to run away from the
Sarah BT
If your tween (or even teen) readers are anything like the ones I know at my library, fairy tales always go over well. A True Princess has it's roots in The Princess and the Pea, but that's only part of the story and the plot stands firmly on its own.

Lilia is searching for her family but also searching for a way to rescue Kai. These stories weave together nicely and have a very fairy tale feel to them. While the story might be a bit predictable, especially for older readers, it's still a lot of
Cindy Hudson
There are many rules to define a true princess, and Lilia seems to break all of them. Breaking the first one, A True Princess Does Not Eavesdrop, is how Lilia finds out that her stepmother plans to sell her as a serving girl to the miller. It’s a fateful moment, because that’s when she decides to run away to the north. As a baby she was found floating in a basket down the river from that direction, and she longs to discover who she truly is.

Joining her on the journey are her adopted sister and b
The perfect entry for middle-schoolers into the realm of fantasy literature, A True Princess was a fun and fantastical romp through the forests and kingdoms skirting a magical elfin land. A fairytale re-telling of The Princess and the Pea, Zahler amps the action up with an empowered teenage girl on a magical road trip where she realizes her first true love and discovers that she may be more than she seems.

In Lilia, girls have a strong role model from which to learn the values of loyalty and brav
Barb Middleton
A student said this is her favorite book and I “had to read it.”

Lilia is an orphan taken in by a family with two children close to her in age, Kai and Karina. Their mother has died and the stepmother does not like her adopted children. Pregnant with her first child she wants to sell Lilia to the Miller’s household to be a servant. The Miller is mean and Lilia decides to runaway and find her family. She knows her family is from the North and she has a blanket that she was found wrapped in as a ba
Lilia has never known her true identity. When she was around two years old, she was found floating down the river in a basket. The man who rescued her took her home and raised her alongside his own children, Kai and Karina. However, the man’s cruel wife, Ylva, the children’s stepmother, insisted on treating Lilia like a servant. Now that Lilia is almost thirteen years old, and Ylva is pregnant, she has decided Lilia must leave to work as a servant for another family, for there is not enough food ...more
Apr 10, 2011 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
The life of an orphan girl who cannot cook porridge is not an easy one, as Lilia has reason to know. She was discovered in a wrapped in a rainbow blanket in a basket that had floated down the river from the north and nobody knew who she might be. A kind man with two children of his own took her in, but his new wife was not so kind. She treated Lilia like a servant and when it came time to have a child of her own she was determined to send Lilia to a new, more cruel, master. Lilia ran away withou ...more
Katieb (MundieMoms)
I absolutely loved this retelling of Princess and the Pea and it's unique spin. A True Princess is a fantastic story with a fabulous main character who's strong, independent, fearless and one I think many readers will enjoy getting to know.

Lilia doesn't know much about where she came from, and in her dreams she has flashbacks of her life before she ended up on a farm. Found when she was a toddler by a kind farmer who had two younger children of his own, she grew up close to Kia and Karina and th
Meg McGregor
I really enjoyed reading this book!

I loved how caring and courageous Lilia was!

I really enjoyed this version of The Princess and the Pea.

I don't want to give anything away, but I figued out who Lilia really was, very early in the story!

This is a fun read and I look forward to reading more by the author!

Now, since I don't sleep very well at all, in any bed I am in; does that mean that I am a true princess, too?
Dixie A.
While the story does include a clever usage of the Princess and the Pea tale, it's not about that at all, which disappoints me as princess tests are very intriguing to me. The story is almost excessively straightforward: hear a rumor about being sold off as a servant, run away; promise a cloak clasp to save your friend, find the clasp.

It wasn't a bad tale, but there was nothing outstanding about it. I wouldn't reread it.
Lilia is a foundling, but usually that doesn't bother her. She's a servant to the family she lives with, but truthfully, not a very good one. She can hardly cook at all, she's always daydreaming, and often falls asleep in the middle of the day. Well, the last one may be because she can't ever get comfortable enough to sleep at night.

When her adopted family decides to sell her to the miller, she decides it's time to strike out on her own. As far as anyone knows, she came from up north, so that's
Another great entry in Zahler's collection of fairy tale re-imaginings, this one based on "The Princess and the Pea". Her books are a good next step for readers who are ready for a little bit more that the Whatever After series but not quite ready for Jessica Day George's princess stories. Love the border collie on the cover!!
This is a quick, but enjoyable read. I loved it, however I felt like Lilia was a bit older than her age. I felt she should have been 17-18 and not 12. Other than that I really like it! Fun retelling of The Princess and the Pea!
Mary Devine
I liked this version of the Princess and the Pea. Diane Zahler does a great job taking the preface of a classic tale and making it her own. I can't wait for her next book to come out.
This book was too entertaining and fun to read to be a bedtime sleepy story. I ended up staying awake finishing the book last night way past my bedtime!

I liked that it was a princess story based on the princess and the pea but had many more exciting elements to it. Scary elves, falcons, girl with unknown family.

Even though it seems a bit predictable, it wasn't annoying or boring to get to those predictable parts but very exciting instead.

SPOILER: The part that bugged me was the part where the ma
The Winter Rose
I read another book by Diane Zahler, "The Thirteenth Princess" and was not impressed by her work - the story, while cute was too flat, predictable and cloying. However, I adore fairy tales and princess stories so I eagerly devour any and all I can get my hands on. Thus I decided to give Zahler another try. I'm glad I did.

This story is much improved over the last one I read. By no means is it particularly brillant, but I found it to be a very adorable story. Zahler's writing quality and character
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here.

The is a book that sounded tailor made for me so I was rather disappointed at not enjoying it. There were elements of the book I enjoyed. The writing is descriptive and the northern European setting with the Northern Lights was interesting. Lilia is a brave heroine and a loyal friend. There are heroic knights, a handsome prince, and the whole "boy next door" storyline. I liked that while Lilia was the princess who passed the test the outcome revealed was far different than
Princess Debz
This was such a fun little book! It had all the magic and adventure that you look for in a middle-grade fantasy. It wasn’t anything deep and heart-wrenching, but it’s something that will make you smile!
The plot was simple, but had enough to it to keep the reader turning pages. You can definitely tell it’s a retelling of the Princess and the Pea, but it has enough to it that it doesn’t have to depend on that aspect. I also thought it was clever how the “True Princess” stuff is incorporated.
The on
I first noticed Diane Zahler's books in the bookstore, mostly because the cover was so pretty. Really, this is *exactly* what a middle grade fairy tale retelling cover needs to look like. Anyway, since we all know that judging books by their covers it the right way to go, Zahler's fairy tale retellings have been on my mental to-read list for a while now. I recently got a hold of three of them, and randomly decided to start with A True Princess.

I didn't bother to read a plot description before st
I quite enjoyed it! Lighthearted and fast-paced, I think this will go over quite well with the middle grade age group. As it is, it's got enough of a fairy tale vibe to make me feel all warm and fuzzy, harkening back to childhood favorites like The Ordinary Princess. Spunky heroine, neat little plot, gobs of fairy tale elements...even the name selections kept me smiling. The age of the main character, Lilia, (twelve, almost thirteen) didn't sit as well with me, especially with the more romantic ...more
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danyelle Leafty
I liked how this turned into a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. And the addition of the elf king was an interesting and fresh take on the tale. The chapter headers were fun, because they all said something like: A true princess does not gossip, and then the chapter refuted that with the MC--who is a true princess--doing just that.

There were a few logical lapses that stuck out to me, that might not stick out for those in the intended age group. Such things as how easy their escape was, that
Kiera Beddes
Dec 30, 2011 Kiera Beddes rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: tween with no previous cultural attachments to traditional stories
Shelves: ya-lit, mythology, fantasy
Genre: fractured fairytale, princess and the pea
Summary: Lilia is a dreamer and not a great servant. She was brought to a poor woodcutter's home through mysterious circumstances so she goes off into the world with her best friends Karina and Kai to find where she really comes from.
Response: Uh,well this book seemed to have a good idea but I think the execution was a little off. The author tried to mix to many disparate elements and the resulting clash of cultures was both a little off-putting a
Tessa Joy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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I grew up reading children's books and never wanted to do anything but write them. Then I got a contract for THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS and A TRUE PRINCESS, and then PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS and SLEEPING BEAUTY'S DAUGHTERS. Magic does happen! I live in the country with my husband in what is aptly nicknamed the Bug House. Visit my website at

More about Diane Zahler...

Other Books in the Series

Fairy Tale Princesses (4 books)
  • The Thirteenth Princess
  • Princess of the Wild Swans
  • Sleeping Beauty's Daughters
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