Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘Alyssa Crowne

Sometimes finding a book that a student has recommended can be an adventure. For example, I recently searched the library of the school where I teach for a Perfectly Princess book. Did you know there are six books, each has a different color and is about a different character?

Unless a student recommends a specific title in a series, I prefer to read the first book in the set. The first in the Perfectly Princess series by Alyssa Crowne was checked out, which seemed too bad because it was about school. I opted for the second. Turns out it was the right choice. When I informed my student that I had borrowed a Perfectly Princess book, she eagerly asked, “Did you get the purple one?”

Purple Princess Wins The Prize has an adorable appearance. All its pages are purple. Its cover is decorated with white stars. The illustrations are simple line drawings. One is easily drawn to this cute and colorful series.

What about the content? Purple Princess Wins The Prize has a predictable plot: the main character Isobal has a problem and faces a few obstacles in trying to resolve the problem. Isobal’s dilemma is that her twin brothers both have tons of trophies, while she has none. In reading a book about a princess who goes on a journey, Isabal is inspired to go on her own to win a prize. She tries to win a cupcake contest and later a fifty-meter dash. With this type of book, it should not spoil the ending if I tell you that eventually Isabel wins her prize and everyone is happy for her.

The book also has flat characters: Isobal is a pleasant girl with strong morals. These morals create a dilemma for her when her dad buys her purple sneakers for her race. The sneakers were the last in the store and so Isobal isn’t about to hurt her dad’s feelings by telling him they don’t fit. At the same time, she feels bad to lie to him. Her parents and best friend support her. Although normally her best friend is not allowed to eat sweets, her parents make an exception so that she can buy a cupcake from Isobal to eat. Everyone is refreshingly but also perhaps unrealistically good. As for Isobal’s siblings and rival classmate, they taunt her but also don’t turn out to really mean.

Ironically, even in grade school, students are taught that varying one’s sentence length and using ‘wow’ words make for the most interesting writing, while authors for the younger age groups are encouraged to keep one’s sentences all about the same length and to stick to a vocabulary list suitable for their intended age group. Emergent readers might very well prefer and even need this style, but it can also result in rather bland writing such as found in Purple Princess Wins The Prize.

As a reviewer, I owe it to my audience to finish books I critique. Funny thing about sticking to a book is that one can discover merits to it. Isobal is a character I could easily like and so I rooted for her even though I knew she would a prize. Because I didn’t know how she would win, I also had an interest in the plot’s direction. Purple Princess Wins The Prize is also a safe and positive read, something that can not always be said for today’s books for young people. Besides modeling strong moral values, the book encourages reading and writing without disparaging sports. It also presents positive messages about never giving up and working hard for what one wants.

Although I suspect its intended audience will soon outgrow the Perfectly Princess series due to its simplicity, the books do make for a safe and enjoyable read. I understand why they are popular among elementary-grade students.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?


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