The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker

Goodreads: The Wide-Awake Princess
Series: Wide-Awake Princess #1


Summary:  Princess Annie’s older sister Gwen was cursed at her christening to prick on finger on a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and sleep for one hundred years.  So when Annie was born, there was only one fairy, and she gave Annie the gift of being unable to be touched by magic.  When Gwen falls into her enchanted sleep, the rest of the castle household surprisingly sleeps, as well, and only Annie is left awake.  Determined to see her family again, Annie embarks on quest to find Gwen’s true love so he can break the spell.  But first, she needs to figure out who her true love is.

ReviewThe Wide-Awake Princess is a cute, creative tale that turns a number of fairy-tales on their heads.  To start, Annie is not Sleeping Beauty, but her ordinary sister, “blessed” to never have the benefits of magically-enhanced beauty, or embroidery, or poetry.  Of course, the reader soon discovers that Annie is remarkable in her own way; all her talents have been earned through hard work, and she has the biggest heart in the kingdom.

Other fairy tales do make small cameos.  For example, Annie wanders into the home of the witch from “Hansel and Gretel,” though her personality is not what one might expect.  Spotting these little extras thrown into the story is a lot of fun.

The plot line is structured similarly to that in Baker’s The Frog Princess.  Annie goes on a fairly straightforward quest, there and back again, and various obstacles arise in her path.  Just when one is ready for her to return home with an eligible prince for Gwen, something stops her.  Just when all seems lost, something pretty convenient happens.  Although precisely what will happen tends to be unpredictable, there is a definite pattern to the types of events that do.  Nonetheless, the pattern reads more smoothly than in The Frog Princess.

Still, Annie—and the companion she finds to help her on her quest—are endearing characters, and the variety of princes they meet is hugely entertaining.  Although Annie, in a fit of pique, accuses all magically-enhanced princes of being the same, it is clear they are not.  A great cast of characters in a fun setting makes The Wide-Awake Princess an enjoyable read.

Footnote:  Apparently Rapunzel is a bit of player, and one of her lovers is a married man.  One of the princes Annie finds is an alcoholic.  Are these not strange themes for a middle-grade book?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Published: 2012 (Bloomsbury Children’s)

2 thoughts on “The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker

  1. Anahera says:

    This one sounds like a really cute spin on the Sleeping Beauty tale, one that I HAVE to keep my eyes out for! 😀

    As for your footnote, it doesn’t sound like that I would normally find in a middle-grade book, that’s for sure.


    • Briana says:

      I actually didn’t love E.D. Baker’s The Frog Princess, so I was pleasantly surprised how much I did like this one! It definitely is cute.

      Every once in awhile I come across content in middle grade novels that surprises me–talk of adultery or illegitimate children or child brides, etc. I know that young children often do have to deal with tough issues in their own lives (maybe their own parents are divorcing because of cheating!), but seeing it portrayed in children’s books (or, at least, fantasy ones that aren’t in any way trying to be “issues books”) just continues to startle me. Maybe I’m too conservative. 😉


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