March 12, 2013
Princess Adela is not a typical princess. She’s neither particularly beautiful nor particularly graceful, and she’d rather spend her days digging new plots for her garden than listening to teatime gossip. But when her friend Garth is invited to a garden party hosted by Lady Hortensia — whose beauty is said to be rivaled only by the loveliness of her gardens — Adela can’t resist coming along, even if it means stuffing herself into a too-tight dress and donning impractical shoes. But the moment Adela sets eyes on Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom — in the middle of October! Not only that, there is a talking magpie flitting about the garden and stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that Hortensia is a witch and the magpie an enchanted prince? And what of the flowers themselves? Will Adela get to the root of the mystery and nip trouble in the bud before it’s too late?
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Adela was a fun anti-princess; she wanted to work in the garden, have a life instead of get married, and has this great line "I don't care what I look like. I care about what I do." (page 158) How many times have I chanted "useful, not decorative" to my own children? The setting is a standard medieval royal one, which children seem to really like, and Adela is 17, which makes her even more intriguing as a princess. Hortensia's magic is pretty gruesome, if you think about people living as flowers for decades, but isn't too scary for younger readers. The garden details are also very vivid.
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