The Runaway Princess
Kate Coombs
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
2006

Megan and I are both fans of a good princess story. There are some I cherish so much that I’ve never reviewed them on this blog for fear of never stopping my blog post! After all, I’ve thesis length papers on some favorites.

So, it’s with delight that I’ve discovered a fresh, new take on the classic princess tale. (Thank you, Brandy!) Kate Coombs gives us a fairy tale turned on its head. Thankfully, she doesn’t try to usurp the traditional format by using crude language, making characters do completely out-of-character things, or setting her princess tale in some contemporary city. No, no, no.

What she does do is give us a hilarious tale of a princess determined not to be given away in marriage to the prince who wins the contest her king-father has set (involving the usual tasks of subduing a witch, slaying a dragon, and capturing the bandits). Coombs gives us a witch who’s really not so bad after all, a baby dragon instead of its fearsome parent, and a rogue group of bandits led by a fearless leader not too unlike the princess herself. We meet wonderfully quirky characters like twin princes Dorn and Dagle (don’t you love those names!?), the princess Meg herself, an underage boy wizard with a fondness for hot chocolate, an overly pompous prince named Vantor (sounds like “vain” doesn’t it?!), and a host of other terrific characters. There are delightful tongue-in-cheek names like a pub called “Ye Broken Egg.”

We see hilariously unexpected things happen, a mother and father who come to understand their daughter better, and a group of loyal friends who will stick up for each other even under potential danger to themselves.

And the princess lives happily ever after.

This is a fun read, and I think both boys and girls will enjoy it. This is especially fun if you’ve already read a few traditional princess tales because then you can appreciate the turned-on-its-head tale Coombs gives us.

Recommended for elementary and up (read aloud to early elementary; independent read middle elementary and up)

Book checked out from local library; cover image from goodreads

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