Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep

Levine, Gail Carson. Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep. New York: Harpercollins, 1999.

This book is part of "The Princess Tales" series, and I enjoyed it so much that I ordered "The Princess Tales" Volume I and Volume II for my young cousin! Princess Sonora is blessed at her christening with many wonderful traits, but the most important one is that she is ten times smarter than anyone else. Once blessed, she learns to speak immediately, and continues to amaze all around her with her brilliance. That is until the amazement turns to annoyance, hence the popular saying, “Princess Sonora knows, but don’t ask her!” Of course, because this is a Sleeping Beauty tale, she is also cursed to prick her finger and die, and of course, another fairy softens the curse by putting her and everyone around her to sleep for 100 years.

At the age of fourteen, it is time for Sonora to meet her future prince, Melvin. The chosen one, who is not at all her choice is, well, not at all smart either. Luckily Sonora, who is ten times smarter than anyone else, devised a plan long ago to use the spindle prick curse when it was most convenient for her. Secretly, she had hidden a spindle in a special place for just the right time. This plan backfires when her mother discovers the spindle, Sonora hears her mother screaming, runs to see what is the matter, they collide, she is pricked, and the spell takes hold. I thought this part was amusing and original. Yes, the princess is too smart for the curse, but fate takes over anyway.

As the years go by, the story of Sonora and the sleeping castle becomes something of a legend. When Prince Christopher, who is full of questions, hears that there is a princess named Sonora who is full of answers, he must find her. Specifically, he wants her to answer the question of why his kingdom’s sheep are losing their fur. When he finds Sonora in her bedchamber, he sees a sign that reads, “I am Princess Sonora. Kiss me, prince, and I shall be yours forever.” Prince Christopher can’t go through with it (“What was that on her cheek and in the corner of her mouth? Spit? Bird droppings? Ugh!”). But then he hears her start to talk in her sleep, and is so impressed with how smart she is even when she is asleep that he quickly kisses her. Not only does Sonora answer the question about the balding sheep, but she and Christopher are married right then and there. And Christopher and Sonora, who are both very clever, explain to Prince Melvin that he wouldn’t be the prince of his kingdom anymore (since no one else from his kingdom had fallen under this kingdom’s spell), and he is pleased to be dubbed a knight.

I loved how this little book combined traditional fairy tale whimsy with modern and realistic humor. Honestly, I rarely choose to read children’s books for my personal reading (usually I read them for academic/professional reasons; I choose different books for reading in my spare time), but I think I would actually enjoy reading more of this series just for fun!

Click here to read an interview with Gail Carson Levine.

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