Milla Takes Charge (Disney: Daring Dreamers Club #1)
Enter Piper, Mariana, Zahra, and Ruby. Together with Milla, they form the Daring Dreamers Club and become best friends. But can they help Milla believe she's ready for this real grand adventure?
Diverse, talented, and smart--these five girls found each other because they all had one thing in common: big dreams. Touching on everyday dramas and the ups and downs of friendship, this series will enchant all readers who are princesses at heart.
The Start of a Great New Series
MILLA TAKES CHARGE by Erin Soderberg is the first in a new series from Disney and Random House Children's Books called the Daring Dreamers Club. The book features a group of five fifth grade girls who are placed in an advisory group lead by the school's music teacher, Ms. Bancroft. Milla is the star of the show in this book, but each girl will be featured in a book going forward.
Milla thinks that her moms are anxious and over-protective. Milla has serious food allergies, and she has a scar on her face from a serious dog bite when she was young. Milla desperately wants to be an explorer who has wonderful adventures, but she's pretty sure her moms will never let her actually leave her home. Fifth grade promises many new adventures including new friendships with the other girls in the Daring Dreamers Club, and the chance to go on the fifth-grade overnight trip--if only her moms will sign the permission slip!
MILLA TAKES CHARGE features Milla's strategies to prove to her moms that the overnight trip is something that she can handle. Each attempt to showcase her ability to act responsibly ends in disaster, though, and Milla is discouraged before she even sits down to talk to her parents about the trip.
This book is a lovely start to what promises to be a terrific series. Milla is a great character, and I love her family and friends--including her pet pig, Chocolate Chip. Milla has many of the typical insecurities and challenges that come with her age, and the message of the book is how to meet those challenges with the help of others. Soderberg does a good job writing about this diverse group, and every character is well formed. I really enjoyed Annosha Syed's illustrations, too, and Soderberg ties information of real-life female adventurers into her Author's Note at the end of the book.
In all, this is an empowering, enriching, informative, and fun book for elementary and middle grade readers, and I look forward to reading the rest in the series. My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Princess Influence for the New Millenium
Milla is ready to have a great fifth grade year. She loves to write stories about adventures, hang out with her moms, and play with her pet pig, Chocolate Chip, who helps storyboard her stories. Things look good at school, especially with advisory period, for whom Milla's has a new teacher, Ms. Bancroft. Ms. Bancroft wears fun clothes and has quotations from Disney princesses all over her room. When she has to write in a journal about which princess she is most like, she chooses Belle because of their shared loved of books and reading. It's fun getting to know the other girls, including Piper, who loves to cook, Ruby, who is a soccer fanatic, Zahra who loves sewing and fashion design, and Mariana, who is supposed to love swimming like the rest of her siblings, but isn't quite sure. Milla is looking forward to the fifth-grade overnight trip, but she's not entirely sure if her moms will let her go. In addition to very serious nut and dairy allergies, Milla was attacked by a dog when she was young, which resulted in a scar on her cheek and a lot of overprotective attitudes from her mothers! They are also both very busy, so it's hard for Milla to find a time to sit down and ask about going. In order to make them more amenable to the idea, Milla tries to prove that she is really responsible, but her ideas, like taking her pet to school, all seem to back fire. As the deadline approaches and the other girls in her advisory make plans for the trip, Milla has to figure out a way that she can get permission to go on her first actual adventure!
It's always good to read about middle grade characters with particular interests and passions, and the Daring Dreamers certainly have these. Piper is particularly nice about keeping Milla's dietary restrictions in mind, and it's good to see that Mariana still hasn't decided what her passion is. There are never enough books about soccer, so I'm looking forward to the volume with Ruby. I would have preferred some more science of technology related interests, or even something along the lines of engineering or building. While the princess theme is really well done when it comes to encouraging the girls to be active and work toward their passions, there are a lot of books about girls who want to write and sew, so having Milla want to be an actuary would have been a lot fresher!
There can never be enough ensemble books about girls who do different activities with their friends, and The Daring Dreamers Club is a great addition to books like Kimmel's Forever Four, Simon's The Cupcake Diaries, Greenwald's Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes, Margolis's Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries, or Deutsch's The Friendship Code.