"The Princess Diaries"

by Meg Cabot

For a six-year-old girl, anything with the word "princess" in the title is like a magnet. K loves all the Disney princesses - Aurora, Ariel, Belle and so on - and she has the dresses to prove it (all gratefully received donations; do you know how much those things cost?) But this is a Disney princess she's not going to meet for a little while, I think.

I first came across the film rather than the book and to be honest it initially struck me as another routine Pygmalion story (see also: "She's All That" etc etc) in which a previously unremarkable girl turns out to be beautiful. The hook here, of course, is that the normal teenage girl is, like, a real princess!

Anyway, the film is actually rather sweet; Julie Andrews is marvellous, obviously, and Anne Hathaway is very cute (and even here, clearly on her way to becoming the Major Babe she is now). So when I came across the book and its sequel (The Princess Diaries: Take Two) for sale for 10p each in the library, I thought they'd be an excellent present for K. I'll just have a quick read first ...

And, it has to be said, the books are pretty good - but not something I'd give to a six-year-old. The diarist - Mia - is fourteen and concerned about teenage things. Reasonably real teenage things, like worrying about her period and when is she going to get breasts and whether her (single) mum is going to sleep with her new boyfriend, who just happens to be Mia's algebra teacher.

It's light reading, enjoyable and well suited to teens and slightly younger - but not a six-year-old. I'll hang on to the books for when K is a little older.

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