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BOOK: 'The Worst Princess' turns fairytale world upside-down

Princess Sue upsets the traditional fairy tale archetype.

Princess Sue has been waiting for what seems like a hundred years. She peers from her balcony. She slouches in her chair. She looks at books about frogs and glass slippers.

"The Worst Princess" by Anna Kemp, is a story about a princess who knows what she wants: a prince.

When he finally arrives, she's ecstatic. He brags about his knightly quests; she smooches him aggressively. Then off they ride, her long Rapunzel-like braids flying behind her. Finally she is free.

Kind of.

They head directly to his castle where he says, "My perfect peach, my precious flower, you have a penthouse in the tower."

Very quickly, Princess Sue realizes that she will not get to ride horses and bash dragons. Instead her prince leads her to a windowless room of fancy dresses, ridiculous shoes and peacocks.

Princess Sue is not pleased. "Alone in her tower, Sue started to spit,/What a disaster. My prince is a twit!"

But when she spies a dragon, everything changes. She invites him in for tea and plans a fiery adventure of escape.

"The Worse Princess" is a funny story of a determined and likeable princess who turns the traditional fairy tale upside down.

Along with the humor, author Anna Kemp astutely captures Princess Sue's strength. It's not just a matter of breaking down the walls that the prince places around her. She also must firmly believe in herself, even when he calls her "The Worst Princess."

Illustrator Sara Ogilvie subtly shows Princess Sue's personality. When she arrives at the new castle she remains in her princess dress and yellow high-tops rather than putting on the new clothes.

After the fiery blast (which isn't so subtle), Princess Sue's braids and dress become shorter -- much better suited for the adventures she will begin.

It's easy to say that "The Worst Princess" is about independence. But take care to savor the last page. This is also the story of friendship.

"The Worst Princess." By Anna Kemp. Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie,. Random House, 2014. 32 pp.