Tween girls who know the Disney Princess stories by heart and are looking to extend those fairy tales may be excited to discover the spinoff stories about the women's children. The "Ever After High" book series by author Shannon Hale debuted last summer and has quickly become popular with girls ages 8 to 12, including my own 9-year-old daughter.
The book jacket describes the trilogy this way: "At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens ... whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End -- both for a story and for a life."
The newest Ever After High book, "The Unfairest of Them All," was just released a few weeks ago, and it picks up after Legacy Day. Decisions made that day pit the Royals, who believe in fulfilling their destinies, against the Rebels, who want to write their own stories.
The main characters are from the "Snow White" story: Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, and Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen. Through separate novellas, readers are introduced to others, such as Madeline Hatter, daughter of the Mad Hatter of Wonderland; Briar Beauty, daughter of Sleeping Beauty; Ashlynn Ella, daughter of Cinderella; and Hunter Huntsman, son of the heroic Huntsman.
Parents and young readers are likely to compare the wildly popular "Monster High" series to the new "Ever After High" books. After all, both are based on merchandise lines that feature dolls and other licensed products, and it's easy to see the promotions in the stories. Still, Hale's sense of humor keeps the books from feeling like one giant advertisement. For example, the students in Hale’s books use MirrorPods and MirrorPhones and listen to Tailor Quick and One Reflection. In addition, the focus stays on the relationships between female characters, rather than veering off into romance territory.
Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of nine children's and young adult novels. She won the Newberry Honor for "Princess Academy" and wrote the critically acclaimed "The Goose Girl."
The "Ever After High" series provides girls who aren't ready to give up their beloved princesses a fun way to delve into the stories again. And if these clever characters help cement an interest in reading, this is one parent who won't complain.