Sps's Reviews > Princess Grace and the Golden Nightingale

Princess Grace and the Golden Nightingale by Vivian French
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's review
Jul 28, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: elem, fantasy, story
Read in July, 2010

official review for work:

The question with these is not “Are they inane?” but rather, “Are they more inane than other things we have in the collection, and would that prevent them from being reasonably popular?”
And the answer: yes, they are slightly more inane even than Rainbow Magic, but no, that probably will not prevent them from circulating like hotcakes. Tiara Club books appear to feature a different girl in each one, though all are pre-teen students at a school for princesses. In addition, all the stories feature the same villains, twin nefarious floozies named Diamonde and Gruella. In each story the evil twins plot to get the protagonist in trouble with the head teacher-fairy godmother; in each story a handsome visiting prince assists the good-girl protagonist to triumph in the end.

Rainbow Magic is equally predictable, but at least it doesn’t have the same squealing quality that Tiara Club has: author Vivian French makes liberal use of all caps to show that the characters are SO excited and think things are BRILLIANT! (Note the Britishisms.) Nonetheless, these have pink, foil-embossed covers, tidy episodic plots, and big-eyed drawings on every spread. On two occasions young girls have snatched the review copies from the desk in front of me and were disappointed that they couldn’t check them out. The series circulates well at a certain library branch in Spanish; I predict similar popularity in English. Sorry.


Leave it to your mom to burst any sort of highbrow bubble you might have: when mine saw me carrying these review books to dinner at her house, she exclaimed "You would have loved those!" I gave her a look.
She persisted, claiming my six-year-old self would have gone gaga for Tiara Club. I gave her another look.
But she gave me a look right back, and her look won: apparently mothers always remember their children's terrible taste, precisely in order to crow about it when those children have grown up to become snobs.

That said, now I'm a snob, and this book/series affords plenty about which to be snobby. Let's put aside the pink-n-purple, foil-embossed cover. Let's skip right past the cover illustration of a skinny, round-headed blonde making eyes at a birdie-wirdie. But remember her face-- you'll see it a few more times inside the book.

Princess Grace and the Golden Nightingale has a main character on a path towards a Good Thing. (Gratification!) There are obstacles, in the form of peers, and a frisson of fear that authority figures will unfairly take away their approval, thus providing a lesson in injustice. She discovers a new friend and ally in the prince, who also reinforces the heteronormative framework in which females vie for high-status males. In the end, all her romantic-egotistical fantasies of triumph, uniqueness, intimacy, being singled out for praise, and public humiliation of her rivals come true. So that's the plot. One could make a not-very-amusing parlor game of the usual plot elements for children's media and then use aleatory methods to assemble your own plots. I promise they'd be indistinguishable from, or possibly make slightly more sense than, the professional crud.

*Please note that I also read fabulous things at age six. My Father's Dragon, The Tall Book of Make-Believe, and Cicely Mary Barker's original Flower Fairies book come to mind.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Zack (last edited Aug 04, 2010 11:32AM) (new)

Zack Rock If only the first half of your third paragraph were the actual book description on the jacket. They'd sell more copies if the readers were assured the book reinforces heteronormative frameworks.

Oh, head's up, I think the last sentence of the review was cut off.

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