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Author: Diane Zahler

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Publisher: Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, ©2010

Material: hard cover

Summary: The classic fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses takes on a fresh twist that includes the youngest, unwanted thirteenth princess, Zita. As red-haired, green-eyed Zita grows up in the palace as a servant, she slowly uncovers the truth of her past by questioning Cook and various other servants. Once she discovers her true identity, Zita approaches the princesses as she sees them in the halls, gradually becoming acquainted with the sisters she never knew. Soon after Zita starts to feel like family among her sisters, an odd thing begins to happen with them; the 12 princesses begin to appear weary and tired. They get put on bed rest and doctors are called, but the princesses’mysterious ailment just gets worse. Zita, with the company of three other friends, works to uncover the magic behind this cursed illness before her sisters begin to die. This is a fairy tale novel for middle grade readers.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 5.4

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: Teen Reviewer 1: The Thirteenth Princess is an enchanting, cute read for fourth to seventh grade readers. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. From the dark-heartedness of an evil witch to the magic of a first love, all aspects of this book fully captured my heart. Although I already am a junior in high school, the charm of a cute fairy tale pulled me in. It would make a great gift for little sisters or other young girls.

Teen Reviewer 2: Although it is not my favorite version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Thirteenth Princess is still a charming twist that does hold a surprise or two while staying faithful to its original plot. I would recommend this book to middle school students, but as a whole, it would probably be more interesting for someone who has not read The Twelve Dancing Princesses yet.

Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Pros: The Thirteenth Princess is a story that will bring readers back to their childhood dreams of knights and castles, leaving them with a smile on their face once they finish.

Cons: Although the elder 12 princess names are a hassle to keep straight, all the characters developed in the story are very realistic and girls will relate to them.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a fun book to read. Preteens will like reading it themselves, and it also makes a great read-aloud.

If You Liked This Book, Try: Rise by Anna Carey; The Seventh Princess by Nick Sullivan; The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler, and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND   THE WILD TALES OF A CURIOUS PRINCESS   SISTERS OF THE SWORD

Educational Themes: This is a story meant for fun reading. There are lessons about family, secrets, and history, but it's mostly a fairy tale.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fairy tale, adventure

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2010, February 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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