The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny by Michael Mullin

Goodreads: The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny
Series: TaleSpins #2
Source: Received from author

Summary: Even though her parents rule the kingdom, Princess Penny cannot climb the social ladder at school.  Mean girl Darcy DeLupus spreads rumors about her and no one wants to be her friend.  Determined to exact revenge, Penny hires the services of a witch, but ultimately discovers that playing with magic can be a dangerous pastime.

Review: Mullin’s fairy tale retellings set themselves apart from others on the market with their conscious inclusion of the readers as both participants and audience.  By making the witch of this original story the same one who enchanted both the Frog Prince and the Beast, Mullin connects his work to the rich tradition of fairy tales throughout the centuries.  He simultaneously updates the story by portraying Penny as a modern-day teenager with the same types of problems readers face—popular cliques at school, awkward social moments at dances, etc.  The readers can thus relate more readily to the protagonist and envision themselves in Penny’s shoes.  Penny’s snarky attitude and commentary contribute further to the readers’ sense of identification; she does not passively accept her role in a far-fetched story, but makes the same sorts of observations about her predicament as a contemporary teen might.  Readers thus get the sense that fairy tales are truly continuing stories, constantly evolving and not relevant simply to those nostalgic for a romantic past.  On the contrary, fairy tales can not only speak to modern readers, but also happen to them.

Mullin writes the tale in rhyming verse, lending to the air a certain simple quality reminiscent of childhood nursery rhymes.  This technique emphasizes the oral tradition of fairy tales while also imparting to the story, sometimes dark, a sense of levity.  Occasionally the rhyming pattern breaks down or the meter suddenly changes or even fails, but, on the whole, the verse proves delightfully fun while adding to sense of originality.

Fans of fairy tales will enjoy this refreshing addition to the market.  Michael Mullin is clearly just getting started on what promises to be an exciting adventure in publishing.  His sensitivity to his audience as well as his pointed sense of humor mark him as an author whom readers should watch.

Published: 2012

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