Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she's the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita's father banished her to the servants' quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.
Then, after Zita's twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot—and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.
A classic fairy tale with a bold twist, The Thirteenth Princess tells the unforgettable story of a magical castle, true love, spellbound princesses—and the young girl determined to save them all.
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Diane Zahler is the author of The Thirteenth Princess, A True Princess, and Princess of the Wild Swans. Her books have been praised for their "delicious descriptions" (Kirkus Reviews) and their "gratifying depth" (Publishers Weekly). Diane lives with her husband in New York's Harlem Valley, in an old farmhouse held together by magic spells and duct tape.From School Library Journal:
Grade 4–8—Though clearly based on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," this addition to the burgeoning field of fairy-tale novelizations alters the original tale more than most others. It is the youngest—13th—sister, rather than a visiting prince, who discovers why the princesses are wearing out their shoes (and suffering from exhaustion). Zahler has created this sister and her complicated backstory with somewhat uneven success. For the first seven years of her life, Zita's been banished to the kitchen of the very palace where (unbeknownst to her) her father and sisters dwell. Her father evidently hates her because she was his last attempt at fathering a male heir. After Cook spills the beans regarding her royal lineage, Zita ventures to have a clandestine sisterly relationship with the older girls, sneaking into their room at night and returning to the kitchen each morning. Something is clearly ailing her sisters, though, and Zita's friendships with a stable groom and a reclusive old woman in the woods give her the assistance and skills she needs to break through the destructive enchantment that's harming them. She earns the recognition and love of the king and—of course—the love of the stable groom, and they all live, just as you'd expect, happily ever after. In the hands of masters like Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine, fairy-tale expansions gain depth and nuance. Zahler's retelling doesn't fully humanize its characters. She adds complexity without much resonance, making her book entertaining, but not compelling.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
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