middle school

Review: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

notebooks of a middle school princessWho didn’t grow up with Meg Cabot’s the Princess Diaries series? The series is follows Mia Thermopolis, who is just an awkward high school girl until she discovers she is heir to a small sovereign European nation. Mia has to bumble through princess lessons with her crazy grandmother, being in the gossip magazines, AND going through all the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.

Well, after ending the book series a number of years ago, Meg Cabot brings us back to the lives of royal Genovians again. This time, we meet Olivia Harrison, who is a completely average twelve-year-old from the suburbs of New Jersey. And… A princess.

It turns out Mia has a half sister.

Olivia goes through some of the same stuff as Mia did. She has to deal with a bully, she feels like there isn’t anything special about her, and she’s not at all popular. But unlike Mia, Olivia has some attitude. She’s not at all intimidated by Grandmere and thinks Grandmere’s poodle posse is the coolest. For a middle-grade novel, she is surprisingly well-rounded and fresh. Olivia loves art, animals, and wants to get her hands on a phone so she can finally text her best friend Nishi. Oh, and eat things with gluten, since her aunt only lets the family eat rice cakes.

I also really enjoyed how Meg Cabot was able to play with some very mature themes in a middle grade novel—multiculturalism, blended families, and families who don’t always have your best interest at heart. She framed the story well and linked overarching themes back to the beginning of the book.

It was too short but I suppose that is a common problem in great middle grade novels, you want them to go on and on.

I’m really looking forward to if they adapt this one to a Disney movie because Mia and Olivia’s father isn’t alive in the movies. I thought they cut out the father because you can’t say testicular cancer in a Disney movie, but Meg Cabot revealed the truth at BookCon. They cut out the father to give Julie Andrews his lines (and totally Disney-fy the acerbic Grandmere in the process). I still suspect my theory plays into it, so any retcon will be interesting!

Oh, and now I need to go back and reread the entire Princess Diaries series, since Meg Cabot also wrote Royal Wedding, a book about Princess Mia, Genovian politics, and and her wedding to Michael! I’m not sure if Meg Cabot’s going to write more about Princess Olivia but I hope so. If you love the Princess Diaries, then you really have to read about the latest addition to the Genovian family.

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at her website.

Interview: Erin from The Hardcover Lover

(Editor’s Note: As part of the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, I’m so thrilled to introduce Erin from The Hardcover Lover, who will be sharing some insight with you today. Read her interview about teaching below, leave some comments, and be sure to pop on over to her blog to say hello!)

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Tell us a bit about your blog, The Hardcover Lover.

I started my blog, The Hardcover Lover, in July of 2014 for a few different reasons. One was boredom – I was posting all these reviews on Goodreads, and I felt like they just died. I felt like what I had to say mattered more than just to the people on my friends list.

I also kind of fell in love with young adult literature when I was in college. It was a requirement to take a YA literature class if you were an English education major, and so I found myself there, with literally no young adult reading experiences in my past. It’s safe to say that I was the black sheep because everyone had already read so many YA books, and the only one I’d really read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. By the end of the class, I felt inspired, and I thought I’d try to write a YA book. That still hasn’t happened (but I do have a few synopses prepared just in case).

You’ll find a lot of YA book reviews on The Hardcover Lover, but I also review some middle grade. I’ve reviewed one new adult book and a few adult fiction books on my blog, but I mostly stick to YA because I really just enjoy it the most. I also participate in a few weekly memes, and even have one of my own – Soundtrack Saturday. Another feature I have is called Hardcover Lover Confessions where I confess something to my readers and it works as my idea of a discussion post.

You told me you have a certificate in English education.  That’s so cool!  What’s your favorite part about teaching?

I do! I really love connecting with kids. The best part is seeing the look on their faces when they finally understand something.

My favorite part of teaching is getting to teach pieces of literature. When I did my student teaching, I was lucky enough to be able to teach The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and it’s been my favorite experience thus far. I actually had them enact the play. It was just awe-inspiring to see the connections my students were able to make to the present day. Oh, and them running to class to start every day to get a “good part” really helped make me feel like a real teacher.

erin hardcover lover Being around pre-teens and teens, you must be “in the know” when it comes to reading trends.  What sorts of books do you find students reading?

Being that I’m a substitute and get to go to different buildings each day really helps me out here because you’re going to get a multi-layered answer.

I’ve seen a lot of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders with copies of Harry Potter. I was at one elementary school for three weeks straight, and not one day went by when I didn’t see a kid with a copy of one of Rowling’s books. I spent a lot of time with some fifth graders this year, and they all had to read Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and even though it was required reading, the kids loved it. A lot of them bought the companion book, and many of them even read the e-novellas.

In the middle schools and junior highs, I’ve seen a lot of dystopian literature, and I don’t blame them. Popular titles they carry include The Selection books by Kiera Cass, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie. The Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard is still going strong too, probably because of the immensely popular show, but I see girls with those all the time. John Green is also hugely popular at this age group.

Now to high school… They are a little more difficult to nail down, and I understand. I was young once too, and I kept my books in my backpack. A few students who I have talked to admit that John Green is one of their favorite authors. A lot of the young men have moved on from YA and have started to read adult fiction. I’ve seen quite a few teenage boys with mysteries and science fiction books.

What do you find most enlightening in your discussions with young people about books? 

To be honest, you get the most out of the middle schoolers. They are just so enthusiastic about what they read. I recently went on a seventh grade field trip, and a few of the girls found out that I was not a fan of one of their favorite authors. They kiddingly kicked me out of the dinner table!

When there’s time, it’s fun to be able to openly talk to them without the pressure of assignments. Many of them even remember, and they’ll come up to me just to ask me what book I’m reading.

What’s your stance on the big issue: Is it okay for adults to read YA literature?

Yes! A million times yes! As a teacher, I read YA so that I can be able to give a recommendation to a student, but I think it’s also important for adults (and especially parents) to read YA because it’s a different world. So much has changed since I was in high school, and it hasn’t even been a decade since. It’s a difficult world, and if adults are able to see that through the eyes of a teenager, I think they will be able to understand the kids of today.

Finally: if you could make one book required reading in school, what would you choose and why?

Oh boy! You know what… I’m going to go with a challenged/banned book for my answer because that’s just how my mind works. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky should be required reading for high schoolers. I just think there’s so much in it that kids can learn from reading it. Even though it was published in 1999, I think a lot of the themes are things that kids today are dealing with now more than ever.

(Erin – thanks again for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed this installment of the Summer Blogger Promo Tour.  Check back every Sunday in July and August for another post from a fellow book blogger. Be sure to visit the other bloggers involved in the hop; there are so many cool conversations happening!)

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Erin (The Hardcover Lover) is a twenty-something-year-old book blogger from Pennsylvania and substitute teacher. When she’s not substituting, she’s reading the latest books and coming up with new bookish ideas for her blog, The Hardcover Lover. She loves collecting beach glass and bookmarks. She has two cats – Lizzie and Luna.