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The Thirteenth Princess
     

The Thirteenth Princess

4.7 58
by Diane Zahler
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reworking the familiar ground of The Twelve Dancing Princesses into a story of resourcefulness and a loving heart, Zahler's debut deftly and thoughtfully embellishes the tale's classic elements. Banished to the life of a serving girl in the royal palace after her mother died in childbirth, Zita, at age seven, is shocked to learn she is the 13th daughter of harsh King Aricin. The sisters cherish Zita's stealthy visits to their bedroom via a hidden dumbwaiter, and despite the princesses' inability to secure husbands (they are rendered mute in the presence of suitors), all seems well until Zita turns 12 and her sisters sicken and take to their beds. As the princesses grow paler and more feeble, Zita's only clues are her sisters' mysteriously worn-out shoes. Suspecting evil magic, Zita enlists her friends—Breckin the stable boy, his soldier brother Milek, and Babette the forest witch—to help her. Zahler takes a light story and gives it gratifying depth, rounding out the characters and their motivations without betraying the source material and wrapping it all together in a graceful and cohesive romantic drama. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
This sweetly written reimagining of "The 12 Dancing Princesses" is for younger readers than the richer and darker Princess of the Midnight Ball, by Jessica Day George (2009). Narrator Zita is the 13th princess of the title, although she lives and works with the servants. Her 12 sisters all have names that begin with A, as did their mother, but her father named her and banished her when her mother died at Zita's birth. Stealthily she sneaks into her sisters' lives in ways her father has forbidden, and they love her, but they are falling prey to exhaustion and illness. A clever stableboy, his soldier brother, a wise woman in the woods and Cook help Zita to unravel the enchantment that holds her sisters. Delicious descriptions of gowns and (worn-out) slippers, teas and sweetmeats, pink castle and dark forest make up for the pale villains, incomplete magic and the occasional obviousness of the story's fairy-tale skeleton. (Fairy tale/fantasy. 8-12)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Just the right combination of magic, adventure, and romance.”
Booklist
Lively reworking of familiar elements.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Just the right combination of magic, adventure, and romance."
Gregory Maguire
“THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS is a lucky find, a wheeling gavotte of a novel that refreshes an old fairy tale with new enchantment.”
Diane Stanley
“Splendid entertainment with a guaranteed happy ever after.”
Alex Flinn
“An enchanting retelling.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Just the right combination of magic, adventure, and romance.”
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
Just the right combination of magic, adventure, and romance.”
Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
Banished to the servants' quarters from birth, Zita grows up baking, cleaning and serving for moody King Aricin and his dozen gorgeous daughters. She is shocked to learn that she, too, is a princess. Because her mother died giving birth to her, and because she was the unlucky thirteenth girl rather than the longed-for son, Zita has been kept out of the family. But once she discovers the connection, Zita is determined to forge relationships with her sisters. Over time, the princesses take their youngest sister into their hearts, and she realizes they are all trapped. Zita is trapped in a life of servitude; her sisters are kept in lives of solitude, of marrying age and yet with no suitors. Then her sisters fall ill one by one, and Zita must rely on the relationships she's formed with Breckin the groom and Babette the good witch to solve the mystery of the princesses' exhaustion and worn-out shoes. Author Diane Zahler breathes new life into the traditional Grimm Brothers' tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, re-telling it with vivid descriptions, creative plot twists and believable emotions. Though the villain is not obvious, the motive is not evident for readers to decipher on their own, and the overly-tidy ending is unrealistic, the tale is well-paced and has enough action to keep readers interested. A good fit for girls who are still enthralled by princesses but want more zest in their heroines than is typically found in traditional tales, this engaging middle-grade novel is a solid addition to fairy tale-based literature units and retelling-based writing projects. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061948480
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/02/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,093,987
File size:
370 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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What People are Saying About This

Gregory Maguire
“THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS is a lucky find, a wheeling gavotte of a novel that refreshes an old fairy tale with new enchantment.”
Alex Flinn
“An enchanting retelling.”
Diane Stanley
“Splendid entertainment with a guaranteed happy ever after.”

Meet the Author

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.

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The Thirteenth Princess 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
After her mother, the queen, dies in childbirth, Zita is cast away by her father and forced to live in her own home as a servant. Her few encounters with her father are usually brief and heated. Her only bright light of hope is her twelve older sisters and her weekly night escapades into their bedroom. When the princesses start falling ill and their shoes keep getting well-worn, Zita takes it upon herself to figure out what is happening. With no knowledge of magic because of the king's ban on it, she turns to an elderly witch who lives on the outskirts of the grounds, hidden from human view. In an attempt to break the possible curse, Zita tries to send out letters to the neighboring kingdoms. She promises them the hand of her eldest sister if they can break the enchantment. Her father, however, catches her before she can send them and she is forced to try other measures. Shortly after, she feels she is being watched by someone, and that the danger that may cause her sister's deaths is growing stronger. Can Zita shake the watchful eyes and save her sisters? Will she ever be able to truly call the castle her home? A great book filled with action and adventure. Although the secondary characters are a little underdeveloped, the main characters are well-done. The plot is intense and keeps the story moving along quickly. Those who like fairy tales, mysteries, fantasy, and books with lots of danger will enjoy reading THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS.
pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
This book was my favorite telling of the twelve dancing princesses ever! I have read many retellings but none like this. This book was interesting,funny,and unexpected. Each chapter kept me on the edge of me seat, wanting to find out more. The story is told by the youngest of the twelve pricesses - she is the thirteenth princess. I have never read retelling that has been told from this point of view. I have always read retellings told by one of the princesses who were cursed to dance, or the prince who saved them. This story was told from an observer of the curse. The reasons for the curse also made this story more interesting then most. It made perfect sense. Unlike most retellings it was not overly weird, or filled with the normal dark magic, and evil princes. You will be surprised by the outcome. It is a step up from other books! I suggest this for girls ages 12 and up. There were a few suggestive things said in this book, so parents may want to make sure that the reader is old enough to read this book. No langauge was used.
DMPerreault More than 1 year ago
The Thirteenth Princess is a superb reworking of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale, told from the spunky point-of-view of Zita, those princesses' youngest sister, whom they hardly know at the outset of the narrative. As finely written as it is intelligently conceived, this novel pleased me enormously; indeed, I read it at bedtime with my sixth-grade daughter, who listened with enthusiasm. Often I cringe at the sassy, ironic, even jaded sorts of first-person narrators telling the stories of contemporary middle-school fiction. By contrast, Zita has a fresh, hopeful perspective, neither naive nor worldly; and the story Diane Zahler lets Zita shape and filter points up her strengths of character: sensitivity and curiosity, bravery and ingenuity, vigor and determination. As the story unfolds, Zita gains more than a family: she learns what good she can accomplish when love is her guide. And her marvelous accomplices in saving her sisters' lives -- her plucky friend Breckin and the wise witch Babette -- are fully realized characters in their own right who are integral to the plot and to Zita's journey toward family and self-realization. My daughter and I look forward with anticipation to Zahler's next work of fiction.
KidsLeadGirl More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Zita, the thirteenth princess to a king who has no sons. Her being the thirteenth girl, he banished her to the kitchens at birth. Her twelve sisters are the sisters known in the fairy tale twelve dancing princesses. Zita, since she works as a servant, escapes the curse that causes her sisters to dance themselves to exhaustion every night. Once she finds out that she too is a princess, her and her newfound friends must help rescue the rest of the sisters from the terrbible curse before they dance themselves to death! This book is engaging and great for any girls 9 and up who want a good princess story. Well written and woven with great descriptions of castles, dresses and witches, I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Amaia watched Derik put his face in his hands. She could hear muffled sobs. "Derik...I'm so sorry." "No, you had a right to wonder. I guess I had forgotten about her once I met you. I want you to believe that I really did love you." Amaia stared at him, her anger rising. "Well I don't think I can love you anymore. In fact, after you broke my heart I started wondering if love was worth all that pain." Amaia said harshly. Derik then wiped his eyes and turned his back away from her. Amaia cruelly wondered if he was snickering. But then he turned his face toward her and walked up the the bars of the cell, merely inches from her own bars. He took of his jacket, ripped the collar off and retrieved a knife. He began cutting at the bars as if they were string. Then, the silver paint started to peel off and it revealed that the bars were wooden, not metal. He easily cut a large hole, big enough for him to get out of the cell. He climbed out and then began to cut mine. "I know you hate me, Amaia, but you will have to deal with me while we escape. Then you can go along on your merry way." Amaia sighed and climbed out of the hole. Thus is the end of part four. You will find part five sometime this week on the book "star wars before the awakening" thx for reading. If you have any questions, comment to STARWARSCRITIC. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So sad but best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you see this book and choose not to read it that is about the eorst mistake ever!!! You must read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I won this book and SQUEE I LOVE IT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a good book and it is beautufuly written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read it more than once and I love it!! Zita is definitely a good role model of sisterly love. I liked how she risked everything to save her sisters, like risking the possibility of being seen by the one who enchanted her sisters. It really is a must read book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all time favorite books!I think everyone should get a chance to read it and I highy reccomend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good. I think everyone should read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is sooooooooo one of my favorite books ever i love th way the author tells the story and the voice in this wants me to read thos book over and over again i recommend u read this its so good u have to read this book its sooooo good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book out of all the books I read my whole life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this before and fell in love with it! You will too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! I loved how she decribed Zita and I love that name! I thought the ending was very sweet. I would sooo recommend this book! Well done :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the book its really nice .its amazeing how the writer did such a good book with only 14 chapters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it. Stayed up all night just do I could finish it all in one day but it was so good I wouldnt of put it down even if I wanted to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when i was 6 and i loooved it since then till now, im 11 now, i have read it 8 times and am going for my 9 th
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really awsome book! And its the 3rd time i read it!!!!!! I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!!!! ONE IF MY FAVORITE BOOKS FOR SURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D ;D :) : O : P 8) : / :( :# B) BD