Little Book,  Middle grade

The Magic Princess Dress

Gwyneth Rees
New from the wonderful Gwyneth Rees, an irresistible series about the power of wishes and imagination. When Ava enters Marietta’s dress shop on the hunt for her missing cat, she has no idea how magical it will be – but before she knows it, she’s trying on a beautiful Princess Bridesmaid dress, only to be whisked away to Fairytale Land – where Cinderella is about to get married, and her Fairy Godmother is about to turn Ava’s cat into something a lot less cute and fluffy. From the award-winning and bestselling author of the FAIRY DUST books comes this exciting new series that no little girl will be able to resist.
This story is about a young girl who discovers that fairy tales are real and are not always what you expect. As a child I loved all those princess stories and had favourites among the different versions of them. I was always intrigued that there were so many ways of telling the same tale. Now as an adult I appreciate those twists in a tale, the ways in which you can take what is so familiar and turn it into something new and fresh. This story is just like that.
Ava has to go and stay with her Dad for the holidays. A fact that she is not too impressed about. She takes her beloved cat, Cindy, with her and when she goes missing Ava is desperate to find her. Her search draws her to a strange shop (it made me think of Mr Benn for those who remember him!). The sign on the window tells her the cat had been found and is there and Ava is only made more eager to go in by the fact that her father so evidently doesn’t want her to!
Inside she meets the mysterious Mariette and goes into the back of the shop where lots of beautiful dresses are found. She tries on her favourite, a perfect fit! But then things start to get really weird as Marietta tells her that her cat has disappeared to a magical land through one of the magical mirrors and Ava will have to work out which one and follow Cindy through the mirror to get her back. Finding this a little too much Ava runs for home but is later drawn back and is even more surprised to find her Dad there too. It turns out her Dad and her Aunt (who is the owner of the shop) can travel to different worlds through the magic mirrors and Ava sets off through one to find Cindy. Once there she discovers a fairy tale land of Cinderella, arriving the night before her wedding to the prince. The Ugly Sisters are there and truly horrible, the Fairy Godmother too is highly unpredictable and Ava discovers a host of other characters that are never mentioned in her fairy story books. She befriends a mistreated girl called Tilly who has her own Cinderella type story and helps her to pursue her dreams and she goes about finding Cindy and trying to get a glimpse of Cinderella herself. Lots of drama ensues and Ava learns there is a lot more to Cinderella than meets the eye. She also learns a lot about herself and her family, through experiencing the reality of a fairy tale and in helping somebody else.
I really liked Ava, she tells it how it is and feels very normal in what is very definitely not a normal situation. I also liked the way there were parallels between her life and Cinderella’s story and the stories of other characters all blended well and drew out different threads from the story we all know so well. There was a good balance on the issues faced by Ava in both her real life and the magical world. There is plenty of humour too and plenty to keep you turning the pages.
Verdict: Any girl who has loved princesses and fairy tales will enjoy the twists and turns of this well- crafted story. My girls are too young for it but I will be keeping it for when they are old enough. The story is left open for sequels but I haven’t discovered any. I hope there are more as this was a highly entertaining and clever read.
Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 272/1142KB
Genre: Fairytale retelling
Age: Middle Grade book review
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None

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